Rachel 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.
This book touched me profoundly when I first read it last year, and helped inspire my post on homeschooling. It also brought back memories of my own experiences in domineering church settings.
In the acknowledgements at the back of the book, Mathieu lists her sources outside of the fundamentalist movement, and she also claims to have some sources within the movement, although she doesn’t name them (probably for their protection). Having grown up in non-denominational churches, on the fringes of the Quiverfull movement, I can attest to the accuracy of her details:
Whispers. Bits of whispers. Gossip in the form of prayer requests. Juicy information in the form of concerned words.
“Father God,” Pastor Garrett begins, his voice rising and falling, his hands pushing harder and harder into my skull . . .
Please don’t read what I’m NOT writing. My parents are not fundamentalists, Quiverfull, or especially weird (everybody is a little weird, right?). Our family got caught up in a wave of religious fervor that we have all now distanced ourselves from. I did not suffer the kind of abuse that the characters in this book live with.
Rachel is a character I deeply identify with, not just because of shared experiences, but shared character traits as well. She is an avid, though starved, reader and re-reader.
My eyes swallow up the words, greedy for them.
I think about how even after I’d read the book once, I could read it again and again and always find some new word or phrase or have some new understanding about it.
She is also extremely curious, always wanting to look up answers to her questions.
Like why do lunar eclipses happen and how do airplanes actually work and where is Mount Everest located?
I love the relationship between Rachel and her friend Lauren. While Rachel struggles to express her emotions, Lauren is volatile, often erupting in anger over the spiritual abuse she’s suffered. The girls balance each other nicely, and represent different, but very real reactions to restrictive religion.
We both sit there, silent. We’re two messed-up girls who will never have enough words to explain ourselves. Not ever.
Now for the look:
The fit of the top is fairly loose, the straps are wide, and the scoop neck cuts just below my collarbone-it’s not exactly scandalous by Diane’s standards. But it’s like nothing I’ve ever worn before. When I walked up the steps to the Treatses’ house, it felt like the sun was kissing my skin.
I chose this blouse because the cut matches the description, and the colors remind me of the book cover.