A girl who has just escaped a destructive cult after her hands were cut off lives in juvenile detention, found guilty of assault, a crime she indeed did commit.
Minnow was taken at a young age to live with her family in an extreme cult called the Community. The Prophet rules through fear, inflicting sadistic punishments for any infraction, including chopping off Minnow’s hands. Girls are kept illiterate, and polygyny is the order of the day. (Manufactured whole cloth by the Prophet, their religion has nothing to do with Christianity.) In the woods, she meets Jude, to whom she is drawn even though he is an outsider and forbidden. Jude tries to teach her to read, but he too has been kept in ignorance. While in juvenile detention, however, her savvy cellmate, Angel, introduces her to the world of science. Minnow learns to read and discovers that, although she believes she’ll be sent to the adult prison when she turns 18, she would like to learn much more. Oakes uses flashbacks to slowly unveil the major plot—how Minnow lost her hands and the aftermath—as she follows Minnow’s life in prison. The absurdity and cruelty of the cult and its Prophet also slowly come to light, all occurring as Minnow herself begins to find her own way.
Dark and not just a little sensational but hugely involving nevertheless. (Fiction. 12-18)