An abused and starving child, rescued from the compound of a cult in the Arizona desert, adjusts to the outside world.
Just shy of her 13th birthday when Zylynn will have the ceremony binding her to the Light, she's taken away by a stranger who calls himself “Dad” and finds that the Dark world outside her community of believers has surprising appeal. Zylynn's first-person account includes both her memories and her experience of the 10 days leading up to her birthday, after which she believes she’ll be locked out of the only world she’s known , tortured and doomed to Darkness. Her final effort to go back—a harrowing 14-hour hike—sets the stage for a melodramatic showdown in which she learns the truth about what she has believed. There are numerous books for teens about children escaping from cults, but this one also works for a slightly younger audience. Zylynn’s desperation to return to the safety of the Children Inside the Light is paralleled by her hunger. Her present-tense chronicle is filled with details of her meals; she marvels that lunch happens every day. She’s overwhelmed by choices and by the very idea of family. She struggles to resist the attractions of comfort, sufficient food, and nurturing.
A searing story with a pat though hopeful resolution. (Fiction. 9-14)