I went into reading this with a little bit of worry – you see, I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness, so I was worried that this would be one of those books with all the details wrong and it would drive me crazy. But, thankfully this story, while fictional, reads as if it was my childhood – or that of any other JW kid who wasn’t entirely sold on the religion. I’m guessing that the author’s experience as a JW was before my time, since there were a few details that are not exactly as they are now, but still true to life.
Emily’s character as a young child is very innocent and I connected immediately to her. I think the things she thinks and acts is similar to how a lot of JW kids start out. She believes everything she’s told, even if she isn’t quite sure what it means or how it all fits together. LoveGrove does a great job writing from this perspective, which I’d imagine would be very hard to do. Emily’s older sister Lenora is starting to experiment and test the boundaries, and though she’s sullen and a bit bratty, I saw a lot of myself in her as well. The parents and uncle are an interesting group, because in off moments they let you see their true feelings, even though they’re trying hard to parent as best they can and not let their children see what is going on beyond what they need to know.
The alternating perspective of Emily as an adult were disconcerting at first, and it took me a bit to figure out exactly what was going on. Maybe it’s the way that the narrative switches from third-person when telling about Emily’s family life in her formative years to first-person when Emily is older. It was a little odd. I found myself rooting for her, though, and that she would be able to make it in life despite her up-bringing and naivete.
In the end, there is nothing really resolved – as this topic isn’t one that can really *be* resolved, I guess. Sadly this story rings so true that I think that maybe some will see it as far-fetched and a little bit crazy. It would almost seem that way to me if I hadn’t lived a life so similar. It’s a fictional story that is very close to being true, so if you’ve ever really wondered what goes on behind closed doors in a JW family, you should read this book. The memoirs I’ve seen sensationalize and embellish the truth, but this is spot-on despite being fiction.