Title: Down from the Mountain
Author: Elizabeth Fixmer
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen
Publication date: March 1st 2015
My rating: 4/ 5 stars
*I received an eARC of this book through Netgalley.*
Upon starting this book I began to panic a little bit. Reason being cause this book does revolve around religion and I'm one that evades the delicate subject every time I get the chance. I don't really have a specific reason for it, I just do. Although, I do dislike it when books get preachy. Fortunately, that wasn't the case with this book. It turned into one of the wildest roller coasters of emotion that I have ever experienced. Let me tell you why.
This book follows Eva, a 15 year old girl that, after her parents divorce and her dad going away, ends up with her mother with a group of people (cult) who call themselves Righteous Path. They believe that they are among the lucky ones who will get to go to heaven after the apocalypse (in a nutshell). What they have been taught there is all they have ever known.
These poor people are being lied to and taken advantage of by their so-called leader Ezequial. He is a 60 year-old man who believes himself to be God's prophet. Or at least that's what he has made "his" people believe. This is where my frustration comes in.
You have this guy who, in the midst of being completely and utterly blighted by his perpetual paranoia, doesn't cease to exploit the people he is fooling. Particularly the women. He forces them into a polygamous marriage by telling them that "God told him to". Not to mention that he married many of them by the age of 16!! He basically plants all of these ideas into these people's minds by repeating the same excuse over and over. He punishes them depending on the degree of the "sin" they committed. One of them being hit with a paddle which he keeps beside the pew in their church. Another punishment is making them fast, and limiting their education. Overall one of the most abusive, manipulative and misogynistic perverts that I have ever come across. To say that the author succeeded at creating such a detestable character would be an understatement. And I don't think I have ever been so appalled by a character.
Anyway, our main character soon starts to question her beliefs and all of the things that have been pushed in to her mind by Ezequiel. She begins to see how despicable he really is. Although it becomes quite the conflict.
The further I got into the book the more captivated I became. The author does a mesmerizing job at drawing the reader in. I'm telling you, this book was extremely difficult to put down. The characters were very well written and complex. Especially the main character, Eva. She had so much on her mind. SO many questions and doubts an inner argument with herself and the terrible and cruel things happening around her. I really sympathized with her and I never got tired or bored of reading what she had to say. She was so brave! Needless to say, inspiring.
The writing in this book was so gripping and engrossing. It was a story with so much complexity and depth. Dramatic and thought-provoking as well. I got so absorbed int the story that I found myself shedding tears at times! Both out of desperation and sadness.
The reason why I knocked off a star is because, while the characters themselves were extremely well-written and developed, the dialogue could get a bit bizarre at times. But this didn't affect my enjoyment of the book to a significant degree. I loved the book and I would highly recommend it!