***I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review***
SYNOPSIS: Castella lives in a house in the woods with her father, mother, brothers (Hannan, Caspar, and Mortimer), and sisters (Delvive and Jerusalem) where they rely on God for everything and their father preaches that they are the only “pure” people on earth and will be the only ones in heaven. They all believe this until Castley ends up having drama class without Delvive and is forced to partner up with George Gray. While getting to know him Castella starts to question her family’s way of life and whether or not it truly is normal and healthy.
If you look at the summary for this book on Goodreads, this books sounds like it will be highly plot-orientated as well as being romance-orientated and it is neither of those things. Castella (called Castley) is the narrator of this tale and the story is deeply rooted in her trying to understand her way of life and coming to terms with the fact that there is something more for her out there and that she is living in an abusive environment. I read this book all in one sitting because once I started, I just couldn’t stop. The book moves at such a pace that there isn’t any real natural stopping point and even though there are times you are thoroughly disgusted with the way the Cresswell siblings are treated, you still want to keep reading in the hopes that everything will turn out okay. What I loved the most was that even though Castley was aware that things were bad in her home life she still was unsure of whether it was really bad or just her imagination. She went back and forth until she was finally able to determine that her situation was bad and that she needed to fix it and I liked that it never got old or boring. To me it felt incredibly realistic especially when her views bumped up against the views of her siblings. I also liked that they all had different coping mechanisms and that they all were in various stages of disillusionment, making it harder for Castley to get them on her side. It was also nice that all the siblings were having issues with growing up, but they didn’t have an outlet to talk about it so sharing was hard, but not in the annoying “just talk to each other already” that miscommunication stories tend to have. I also liked that when Castley tries to experience a “normal life” she has a hard time enjoying herself and feels weird because it isn’t her norm. She struggles and is slowly finding what is right for her and I like that things didn’t instantaneously get better and she magically was normal. The only thing that I wish would be that there was more. I wanted to know more about the siblings she wasn’t very close to, like Hannan. I wanted to know more about the rumors of the Cresswell family. I wanted to know why her father became a relgious fanatic and why he made his own addition to the Bible. I wanted to know what really happened to their oldest brother (rather than what Castley speculates) and I wanted to see more adjustment to society. It was just missing that little something extra in the world building, but Castley as a character is amazing. I also like that you expect George Gray to be a love interest and then he later reveals that he’s just as bad as everyone else and is just a disgusting human being. There were so many points where I was disgusted with how the Cresswells were treated and I’m glad that there was one person who cared, but wasn’t allowed to help. I wish that the person who cared had a larger presence in the story and that his secret was fleshed out a little more. This book is great and I found it to be different read from what I normally go for. I think it did it’s job well of resolving everything, but also leaving things up to you so that you want more.
Thanks Disney-Hyperion for allowing me to read this book! Get your copy here.