Okay, so I’m trying to update my blog and stay somewhat current, so I wanted to give y’all a little bit of the 411 on my next book, Devoted. Did I just say “411”? Yikes. Sorry. ;-)
My next novel, Devoted, will be published by Roaring Brook Press on June 2, 2015. It’s about a young woman named Rachel Walker who is one of ten children growing up in a rural part of Texas. Rachel is part of an extremely religious family, and when she begins to question her faith, her world falls apart around her. She has to deal with the fallout and figure out who she really is and what she really believes.
I admit my inspiration for writing this book came from my weird obsession with this show on TLC called 19 Kids and Counting, about a family called the Duggars. The Duggars (in case you don’t know) are a family with 19 children that lives in Arkansas. Years ago (when the show was 17 Kids and Counting, I think), I started watching the show purely out of some weird fascination with who they were. I’d grown up the oldest of three, and I’d gone on to have one child. I was befuddled by the idea of having a large family. How did the basic mechanics – laundry, meals, school – happen? How does a family with that many kids exist day to day? I mean, there are days I can barely manage to microwave a bunch of chicken nuggets for my single four-year-old, so how do mothers with more kids than they can count on two hands survive?
As I started watching the show and reading more about the Duggar family, I also began to read more about the Quiverfull movement. While the Duggars have never come out and claimed membership in this Christian subculture, it’s quite clear from their lifestyle choices that they support the basic tenets of this movement. I ended up reading a nonfiction book about this world called Quiverfull, by writer Kathryn Joyce, and I became totally obsessed!
As I learned in my reading, Quiverfull families often believe in following strict gender roles, and they regularly turn their backs on the secular world. Quiverfull girls usually don’t cut their hair, wear pants, or go to public school. Everything they read is monitored and they often have to have a chaperone when they go on the Internet or venture out in public. Instead of dating, they court, and they’re often expected to marry relatively young and have a lot of children. Older girls in Quiverfull families take on a lot of the burden of child care, which frustrates some of them. The reason they have such big families is that Quiverfull followers believe that by having a lot of babies, they are helping to spread the message of Christ.
As I researched Devoted, I got to meet a few young women who were raised in this world, and I was so impressed by them and by their honesty. In fact, I ended up dedicating the book to one of them! I also spent a lot of time on this blog, run by Vyckie Garrison, as I learned more about this movement.
It’s super important that people understand that it’s not my intent to bash religion or religious people with this novel. I still go to church, pray, and have a relationship with God. But my whole life I’ve been quite intrigued by people who take their faith to extremes and who seem to have no doubts in their beliefs. It’s this curiosity that drove me to write Devoted. I really do believe that part of being a teenager is starting to question the faith in which you’ve been raised. Or, if you haven’t been raised in any faith, you might start to question what you believe about the universe, how we got here, and why we’re here. So it’s my hope that this book speaks to teenage readers who are trying to ask themselves big, important questions about who they are. That’s part of the teenage experience, in my opinion.
Thanks for the ongoing support!