Published by Disney Hyperion
Pub Date: June 7th 2016
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
Castella Cresswell and her five siblings—Hannan, Caspar, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem—know what it’s like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.
Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they’re still the freaks they’ve always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.
Castley’s world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father’s grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father’s lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.
Castella Cresswell lives deep in the woods with her five siblings. They live by the rules of their strict, religious father. He controls everything they do, from what they wear to who they can talk to. As they get older Castella and her siblings start to question their way of life.
I felt sorry for Castella and her family. Her family lives in such a strict and controlling household, but none of them are brave enough to completely go against the strict rules and religious beliefs of their father. Religion can be a scary thing. The father in this book based everything he did on his belief in God and his wanting to do what was best for his family in his mind. It is not very clear what exactly the father believes in, just that he is adamant about his beliefs. He does some seemingly crazy things like claiming he does not need a job because God will provide for them and telling his children that they will all grow up to marry each other. As a reader it’s easy to discredit him and write him off as crazy. It’s hard to believe that his wife and children just go along with his ideas, but then again they don’t know any other way to live. They truly believe in him and that his rules are God’s will, which makes them terrified to completely disobey him.
Castella and her siblings start to doubt her father’s teachings about the world around them. All of the children have their own interests that do not go along with their father’s teachings, yet none of them are really ready to rebel and stand up against him. Castilla starts to have questions and pushes her limits. She starts to see what life outside of her home is really like and what’s to be a part of it. She starts to question her father more and more, until she is ready to escape from her father’s control. The one thing that stops her is her siblings, she does not want to leave her family behind. She ends up finding out some harsh truths about her family, and has to fight to keep everyone safe.
This book wasn’t very long and I was able to get through it fairly quickly. The pace of the book was pretty good, and I never felt bored. There was something about it that kept me hooked. I was really intrigued by Castella and her father’s beliefs. I wanted to see how the story would play out and it there were any unsuspected turns coming. The ending did leave me feeling little disappointed and there were just too many questions left unanswered and things were wrapped up too quickly for me. All in all, it was a quick, interesting read with a slightly creepy vibe that kept me engaged the whole way through. I just wish that the book had a little more depth and explored the characters and ideas a bit more.