My next book…Devoted!

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. 😉

The cover of my latest novel, out June 2, 2015.

The cover of my latest novel, out June 2, 2015 from Roaring Brook Press.

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.

Bustle had a great write up and interview with me if y’all are interested in more about Devoted.  You can also add Devoted to your Goodreads queue here.

Thanks for the ongoing support!

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7 thoughts on “My next book…Devoted!

  1. Teenagers questioning religion, what a tough topic! I was raised religious and went through a “rebellious” stage in my teenage years. My son was not raised religious and sometimes I worry that he didn’t get that core background. He’s a good kid, with manners and morals, but no understanding of the Bible or the stories that I grew up with. Maybe he’ll have an epiphany later in life and want to learn more about what I think he’s missing! Looking forward to the book!

  2. I am relieved to know that you are not bashing religion with this book, but I am still afraid that impressionable young people will be pushed away from Christianity because they will get the wrong idea about what we believe from the lives of “Quiverfulls.” It is true, a girl should dress modestly and not try to tempt men, though I don’t have a problem with wearing jeans! And it is a common belief that Christians should have many children to spread the word of God. It’s late at night and I’m not quoting Scripture, but I might be back later with some verses for you all. 😉 I think I will be reading this book when it is released.

  3. I’m the cataloger at a public library, and came across “Devoted”, purchased by our children’s/YA librarian. I knew I had to read it as soon as I could get it cataloged! I devoured “Devoted” over the weekend and loved it. I was wondering if you were planning on writing a sequel? I would love to read more about Rachel’s life after leaving her family, and her journey in public school and the world as a whole.

    • Hi! I’m so sorry for the late reply as I rarely blog or check my comments here!! I’m so glad you enjoyed Devoted. Thank you for reading. There are no plans for a sequel but you never know. I love to imagine what life will be like for Rachel in school…the best compliment paid to a writer is that he or she left you wanting more. Thank you so much for your kind words!

  4. Thank you for this book. I was raised in a similar system and experienced a lot of what you were able to write about Rachel’s life. I never quite fit their box….

    I was wondering if you might be able to list out all of the books you referenced in your book. I would like to look them up and read them.

    Thank you again!

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