The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly
"I am a blood-soaked girl.
Before me a body. Pulped. My boots drenched with his blood. I
search out his eyes, but they're gone, hidden away behind pale lids."
On the YA acquisitions shelves of the Orono Public Library I
found a prime specimen of one of my favorite subgenres. Stephanie
Oakes' The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly, which starts with the quote
above, interweaves a young woman's experience in juvie with the
religious cult dystopia that constitutes her past.
As we meet Minnow, she is standing under a bridge beside the
body of her victim. We learn on the very first page that she has no
hands. The arresting officers are stumped as far as how to
fingerprint her. Following a trial she is committed to juvie until
she turns eighteen, at which point she will be paroled or transferred
to adult prison.
Detention facilities require adjustment on the part of any
teen. For one who has spent twelve years in a very restrictive cult
hidden from the rest of the world they constitute total culture
shock. Minnow goes back and forth between her daily life and her
memories of her growing years in a place where men keep multiple wives
pregnant, twelve was considered old enough for marriage, and the
cutting off of hands for punishment without subsequent medical
treatment was seen as acceptable.
Surprisingly an FBI agent begins to visit her. The cult
compound has burned down. The leader they called the Prophet is dead,
possibly murdered. Their forensic psychologist thinks that she will
be able to help them figure out who did it.
Dystopia fans: this is a real gem.
On a personal note, I have spent time this week with my UMaine chums
encouraging them. I have been impressed with what some groups have
been doing to ease the stress of finals. Barbara Smith and her
Commuter Lounge crew provided the stuff for making gingerbread houses
and decorating cookies. Special kudos to Mariah who did some
emergency baking when cookies ran short--while handling finals, work,
and parenthood. Whew! The CASE gang provided some very special
amenities in a central location. A lot was centered around hot food.
The grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup were perfect for a snowy
day. What they offered that was the most brilliant, however, was
cloth bears and mooses students could stuff. That day I kept running
into young women and men who were visibly delighted with their new
A great big shout out goes out to all who help the students handle
Julia Emily Hathaway
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