genre: young adult
Agnes and Honey have been best friends since they slept next to each other as babies in the communal nursery. Recently, though, Agnes has started taking her quest for spiritual perfection to a level that Honey thinks is a little crazy. Life in the commune has taught them to avoid music and television, to pray constantly and to strive for absolute obedience to God's will - as defined through Emmanuel, their communal leader. What life in the commune did NOT teach them was how to think for themselves and when Honey starts seeing that there are things about Emmanuel and his "methods" that aren't the picture of holiness, Agnes wants nothing to do with it. It's not until a series of horrible things happen that Agnes has to start thinking really seriously about everything she's been taught to believe.
This book is amazing. First of all, we get to hear the story from the point of view of both Agnes and Honey - which brings a depth to the plot that I don't think you could get otherwise. Especially since, for the most part, readers will already understand Honey's point of view - we can see that Emmanuel is a nut; but to read it from the point of view of Agnes: that's some powerful stuff. To see the results of brainwashing, to see the exact same situation processed in completely different ways - that's an interesting story. And it's written so well, with a scorching plot that grabs you and makes you care.
Try this one for a deeper young adult offering about faith and how to reconcile the reality you've been taught with a desire to be true to yourself and your family.