The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a Young Adult, Fiction novel, by Stephanie Oakes. Published by Dial Books, it is a novel of 400 pages. Though there is no action in the book, the mystery of who killed the Prophet, as well as the practices in the cult, will keep your interest until the last page.
The story begins when Minnow Bly, the main character, attempts to kill a boy, named Philip, after stressing her. “I am a blood-soaked girl,” is how the novel begins, and is what makes the readers want to keep turning the pages. A few pages later, the police are there in order to provide medical assistance to Philip, and to arrest Minnow. They are ready to handcuff Minnow, but there is a small issue — Minnow doesn’t have any hands…
Flashbacks throughout the book reveal to us what had happened earlier. Minnow is a seventeen-year-old, who has just escaped the cult which she was in for the past twelve years of her life. The cult has unusual practices and beliefs. However, the characters don’t refer to it as “cult,” but rather “Community.” The Community is run by the Prophet, named Kevin. His followers refer to themselves as “Kevinians,” in the name of their prophet. The Prophet claims that once, he had met a janitor who was named Charlie, and that he was God. He also claimed that Charlie had told him that he was chosen to write and share his words.
Life in the Community is much different than in the real world. Every day, people wake up early and start doing their chores. Some people milk the cows, and some others clean and do other chores. Every man has multiple wives, so the families are very large, each one having more than ten children. This cult has many strict beliefs. For example, the Prophet claims that women cannot read books, since they are creations of the Devil. We later learn that he wants to keep them illiterate, so they will not be able to read his notes. The believers cannot listen to music, nor do anything that goes against the Prophet’s rules. Whoever doesn’t follow the rules shall see the consequences — the Prophet’s sadistic practices.
That is what happened to Minnow. Since she was considered older, the Prophet wanted to marry her, adding to his other eight wives. Minnow refuses, but the Prophet insists. Therefore, Minnow attempts to escape the Community. When the Prophet’s men catch her, she is sent to the Prophet. The Prophet orders Minnow’s biological father to cut off her hands, and after much debate, he does so.
One day, a fire starts in the Community. Minnow is able to escape into the forest and run to civilization. She attempts to save her sister, but she sees that her father has already gotten her. When she reaches civilization, Philip causes distress to Minnow. Being much exhausted, traumatized, and having witnessed a fire, Minnow is not very patient. Though she does not have any hands, that doesn’t get in the way of kicking Philip, almost to death. Minnow escapes, and the Prophet is mysteriously murdered.
Minnow is sent to a juvenile prison, where she becomes friends with her cellmate, Angel. Not true to her name, Angel had murdered her uncle, giving her the longest sentence of all the prisoners. An FBI agent, referred to as Dr. Wilson, has taken interest in Minnow. He wants to find out who has murdered the Prophet, in return of giving back her freedom. Did anyone in the Community survive? Will Minnow get out of prison? Did Minnow kill the Prophet? Will Dr. Wilson ever know the truth?