Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu
HER PRISON HAS NO BARS.
Topics of Interest: critical thinking, conformism, religious extremism, freedom, familial expectations, Quiverfull, 19 Kids and Counting
Curriculum Connections: English, Religious Studies, Equity Studies
Blurb: I’ve always been a fairly conservative dresser, but I totally get why so many people are in an uproar over #CropTopDay. While I may choose to wear modest clothing, I draw the line at someone telling me how I should dress, or worse, blaming my choices for their behaviour.
I’ve never been comfortable showing too much skin. Now I’m not claiming that I shroud my body from head to toe; I wear shorts and spaghetti straps like most anyone else would on a blistering day. I’m just not the type of person who flaunts my midriff, cleavage, or thighs. I’d feel naked.
Rachel Walker, in Devoted, has to keep her body covered at all times in accordance to the laws of her religion and the expectations of her family. Any exposure of skin might induce lust in men, and even a bra strap slightly visible through a well-worn blouse is considered shameful. Although deeply devoted to God, Rachel can’t seem to reconcile her beliefs with the growing number of questions she has about the hypocrisies she’s witnessing in her small, tightly knit religious community.
At 17 years old, Rachel is quickly approaching marriage and motherhood—the only future in front of her and the last life she wants. Her mind is jumbled with unanswered questions, and her thirst for knowledge causes her to take irresponsible risks.
Despite her precautions, Rachel is caught using the internet. Her punishment? Unthinkable.
Sometimes there really is only one option.
Flavour: “But why do Mom and Dad believe in doctors for our bodies and not for our minds? After all, our brains are part of our bodies. But the questions are irrelevant because there’s no one to give me the answers.” (63)
“Another girl talks about how she posts a checklist on the bedroom mirror she shares with her sisters so they can help each other dress modestly in the morning. Does a loose-fitting blouse show too much if she bends over? Does a purse strap cut into her chest and accentuate her body in a way that might be a stumbling block for a man who sees her? If arms are raised is too much midriff revealed? Mrs. Garrett nods her head approvingly as each item on the checklist is discussed. She even asks if copies could be made of the checklist so we could each have one.” (80)
“Why would God give me my mind if he didn’t want me to think these things, notice what I notice, question what I question?” (138)
“Suddenly, my father appears in the doorway between the kitchen and the family room. He fills up the entire space, he’s so large…. They’ve caught me. I know it as well as the Lord’s Prayer…. I know it as surely as I know my own name…. It’s over. I’m finished.” (153, 155)