Summary (from Goodreads):
“Perfect for fans of Mockingbird and Counting by 7s, Caela Carter’s middle grade debut is a story of one girl’s strength and courage as she decides who she is and what she will believe in.
Behind the white-washed walls of the compound, life was simple. Follow the rules, “live in the Light,” and all would be well. Zylynn was excited to turn thirteen and begin the work of bringing others into the light, to save them from the liars and the darkness of the outside world. But when she is taken away by a man who claims to be her father, Zylynn is confused and desperate to return to her home.
Zylynn resists her new life—until she finds small comforts like shampoo, the color pink, and strawberries. But as her thirteenth birthday approaches, Zylynn must make a difficult decision—to stay with the enemy or find her way back to the light. And neither may be what it seems.”
I’ve always been incredibly fascinated by religious cults, especially the effect they can have on people who don’t know better (children dragged into them by their parents, or children born into them). I’m interested in adults who choose to join them too, of course, but what’s it like if you’ve never known anything different?
If you’ve also wondered about them, this book is absolutely for you.
Zylynn broke my heart over and over throughout the novel. She’s so drawn to this new world but at the same time, she doesn’t trust it at all. (Which makes sense; her whole life she’s been told that everyone Outside is a liar and that they will do or say anything they have to in order to drag her into the Darkness with them.)
She also needs to get back Inside before her birthday—just days away—because if she doesn’t, it’ll be too late for her. She’s also very sure that her dad and stepmom are total liars who are just saying whatever they think she wants to hear and that once it’s too late, their behavior will change. All of a sudden, she won’t get the comfortable bed and the good food—she’ll starve and they’ll laugh at her.
(Heartbreaking, right? I told you.)
Watching her slowly learn to trust them absolutely cracked my heart wide open. It was a painful but valuable reading experience. I won’t forget Zylynn.