Saturday, 18 November 2017

Vera Made Me Read It: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

Vera Said: Picking Devoted for Clare was sort of an easy choice, as it is one of my all time favorite novels, and is very much on the underrated side, even though it DESERVES ALL THE LOVE. There are books with good, strong female friendships, but Devoted has, by far, one of the most beautiful and empowering female friendships I've ever seen. I 1000% needed to share that with Clare, and was hoping that she'd love Devoted as much as I do.

DevotedRachel Walker is devoted to God.

She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy.

But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

I didn't actually know much about Devoted before starting except that it was a favourite of Vera's! I had also recently read Mathieu's Moxie and loved it so my hopes were cautiously high! 

Devoted is the kind of book you will never forget. The characters and their relationships stayed with me long after reading and I already know I will be re-reading it (probably soon). It was so emotional being in her head and I was so, so attached to her throughout the book. But I'll admit it was Lauren I properly fell in love with. She was so supportive and wonderful to Rachel even though it must have dredged up bad memories of her own time in the community. She was tough and loving and vulnerable and I adored her.

THE COMMUNITY though. OMG! It made me so mad. The way they treated women, and normalised it, was terrifying and super uncomfortable to read at times. They also humiliated and brainwashed teenagers - the book opens on a teenager who has just returned from a sort of brainwashing camp and is made to stand in front of the congregation and oh god did it make me feel anxious. But it made Rachel's struggle ever more emotional for me and just made me want more and more for her to get out and escape and find happiness. Because she deserved it. 

There is a really sweet romance here, although it's very much in the background of the story. Mark was really adorable and I loved him immediately and his interactions with Rachel were wonderful. As a romance this worked really well and I was so happy to have it there but not dominating a story that was so powerful on it's own. It complimented rather than detracted from the overall plot. 

But the best thing about this was definitely Rachel and Lauren's friendship. It felt so real and raw and they struggled at times because Rachel still held on to a lot of the beliefs she came from and was attempting to reconcile those with also believing in independence and equality whilst Lauren no longer believed at all. I thought both attitudes were really well dealt with and I could understand both Lauren's attempt to leave her experience behind entirely and Rachel's to find a good way to move forward and remain a Christian but in a healthy way. They supported each other throughout and encouraged each other, their friendship was such goals and I loved everything about it - even when they fell out. 

I am super grateful to Vera for getting me to read this because it's not necessarily a book I would have reached for otherwise and I am so glad I did read it! I am now well on my way to being a huge Jennifer Mathieu fan and obviously need to read everything else she has written or will write! 

If you want to check out Vera's review of the book I made her read - Dating Sarah Cooper - then you can click here! And hopefully we can try this out again in the future!


  1. I AM SO HAPPY YOU LOVED THIS!! Your review made me smile so much, because I agree with everything you said. Rachel and Lauren were truly goals! The way they supported each other despite not agreeing was beautiful!! Ah, I love this book so much! Also, I'd love to do this again! It was so fun, because I think we both found a book for each other that we might not have picked up without this. Eek, this made me so happy haha.

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

  2. This is one of Mathieu's books I have not read yet. I will admit, I was hesitant, because I am not a fan of cult books, but the combination of all the wonderful things in this review, especially the female friendship, and just my track record with Mathieu, this has been bumped up my list. Great review!