Review posted September 10, 2016.
Harper, 2016. 285 pages.
Here's how this book begins:
It is just like Father Prophet said it would be. The dark is everywhere, inky black above and below and to either side, squishing me back into the seat where the strap across my shoulder holds me, trapped. The man who is driving said I couldn't turn on the light. He said it would make it too hard for him to see the road. But I'm sure he was lying. The Outside is full of Liars and Darkness. That's what Father Prophet said.
The book is written from the perspective of Zylynn. She's been taken from everything she knows to live with her Dad -- and she doesn't even know what that word means.
Zylynn was taken ten days before her thirteenth birthday and her Ceremony. So she's got to get back to the Light in time. She mustn't be taken in by the Liars.
Zylynn's story is told in the present and in flashbacks. She thinks she's been sent to the Outside because she committed an Abomination. But if she prays to Father Prophet hard enough and only thinks about the Light, surely she can get back. Surely Father Prophet will come for her.
Gradually, Zylynn's story is unfolded. She's so hungry, she stores food under her bed. There's much she doesn't understand. And she just wants to go back. Or does she?
Caela Carter skillfully weaves this story, revealing what Zylynn's life was like in the Light. Even kids who are not familiar with the concept of cults will realize something's wrong with her perspective.
I had some trouble believing that people would actually get pulled in to such a cult and bring their children. But in the Acknowledgements at the end, the author said, "To cult survivors: thank you. If you shared your story, believe me, I found it." She also showed that the cult Zylynn was in got worse gradually. And for Zylynn, it was all she knew, so she had no way of knowing the truth.
It's beautiful to watch Zylynn slowly learning to open up to her new family, to new experiences. Her plight pulls you in. Will she make it back in time for her thirteenth birthday? Or will she figure out that the stories she was told about the Liars were all lies?