cover image The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

Stephanie Oakes. Dial, $17.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8037-4070-9

A harrowing opening scene immerses readers in 17-year-old narrator Minnow’s trauma, as she responds to a perceived threat with astonishing brutality, while carrying the skeletal remains of her own amputated hands. Minnow was five when her parents followed Prophet Kevin into the wilderness to found a rustic commune of Kevinians, who worship the God Charlie and obey prophesies divinely dictated to Kevin, such as, “It is my Commandment that ye do again this task, with Minnow, daughter of Samuel, for she be in need of spiritual intervention of the kind that marriage provides.” The narrative weaves between the hellish prison of the past that Minnow longed to escape and the juvenile prison she enters, which becomes an unexpected haven where she learns to read, make friends, and “think about the universe, and the earth, and the stars.” As Minnow recounts both shocking cruelty and acts of kindness—most movingly from her one friend outside the commune, the boy she assaulted, and her “lifer” cellmate—suspense, dread, and hope intermingle in Oakes’s charged, page-turning debut. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (June)’