This story paints a poignant picture of life growing up in a very religious household. It's told alternately about Emily around age 10 and age 20.
I was initially confused about who the first person speaker was--if it was Emily, Lenora, or someone different. Once this was finally clarified, it was fascinating to watch her interactions with Lenora in the earlier sections. It was still a little disorienting.
I love that the past sections of the story are told from Emily’s perspective. Emily being around ten, we get to see how Lenora might have viewed the religion growing up. Emily doesn’t quite understand the workings of the adult world and her naiveté really helps the story grow. She is quite intelligent for her age though, and seeing her choosing to ignore certain events that happen is very telling.
The dialogue is all set off by dashes which I found frankly unnecessary. It gets confusing in segments because sometimes the speech is followed by tags or beats and it takes a moment to realize that something was an action and not speech. It’s also sometimes confusing to follow who is speaking to whom. The dashes feel gimicky. They do work in sections when Lenora speaks with herself--there they are hauntingly effective and feel like her natural thoughts, reflecting her mental state and the ways that she’s coping with the traumatic events of her childhood.
This book paints a dark picture of the Jehovah’s Witness religion while not necessarily criticizing. This could be a very touchy topic; however, I think the addition of certain details provides some light for their actions. There’s at least some reasoning and humanity given to this character.
Though the first/third person shifts are hard to follow at time and the speech in dashes is unnecessary and confusing, this story is powerful.