Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu
Devoted is the story of Rachel, a 17 year old girl growing up in the Quiverfull Movement who is maturing to an age where she should be prepared to be the perfect “helpmeet”. A helpmeet is someone Quiverfull women are primed to be since the day of their conception (i.e. Devout unquestioning wife, mother to as many children as possible, homeschool teacher, etc).
Rachel is smart, kind, and compassionate. She excels in scholastic pursuits, is self taught in various computer applications and business management models, has read A Wrinkle in Time multiple times, and is devout to god and loves her family. The problem? In the Quiverfull Movement if a woman’s pursuits are not to solely please and accommodate firstly her husband and the church that individual is seen as “ungodly” which leaves two options if you are a woman; Attend a Quiverfull rehabilitation camp where kids go and come back subdued and described as “lobotomized”, or leave your family and church shunned for the secular world with no formal education and few applicable life skills. That is the unfortunate situation Rachel finds herself in after reaching out to an exiled member of their community.
Devoted is a character profile in to the life of a young woman who has grown up in the movement and is questioning if the future laid out is right for her.
The characters were very real, and I felt like this was an honest story. Mathieu did a great job of exploring the situation without sensationalism or didacticism. I’m left with hope for Rachel, and I’m glad we have an authentic look at the harm caused by extreme Fundamentalist religions, but particularly the harm it evokes on women.
Reviewed by Audrey