Book Review: Amity & Sorrow by Peggy Riley

A mother and her daughters drive for days without sleep until they crash their car in rural Oklahoma. The mother, Amaranth, is desperate to get away from someone she’s convinced will follow them wherever they go – her husband. The girls, Amity and Sorrow, can’t imagine what the world holds outside their father’s polygamous compound. Rescue comes in the unlikely form of Bradley, a farmer grieving the loss of his wife. At first unwelcoming to these strange, prayerful women, Bradley’s abiding tolerance gets the best of him, and they become a new kind of family. An unforgettable story of belief and redemption, Amity & Sorrow is about the influence of community and learning to stand on your own.

What I Thought:

15790893I approached this book with a firmly sceptical eye, given my personal opinions about religion, but in truth, religion plays little part in it. Amaranth, and other lost women like her have been seduced by the idea of redemption and Zachariah has used their desperation to create a society in which the rules apply to everyone but him.

It’s not until near the end of the book that we discover why Amaranth – who has put up with Zachariah’s behaviour for the longest – has been driven to take her daughters and escape, but when that revelation does come it is shocking and shows that Amaranth’s devotion to Zachariah is not unlimited when it comes to her children.

There is a sense of hope to the book in the parts we see from Amity’s point of view. She has lived all her life in the family compund, and while she was reluctant to leave, each thing she discovers in the outside world is magical and draws her further away from Zachariah’s ideals.

I’m not entirely sure how to descirbe Sorrow – Peggy Riley has written her so well and she is just horrific. She is almost like an over-privileged teen, she’s used to being special, being an ‘oracle’ in her community and she is desperate to return to that life. She’s too far gone to be able to adapt to living as a normal girl.

With so many books that I read with hard-hitting subjects, to say I enjoyed the book would be the wrong word – I certainly didn’t set it down with a happy smile and move on to the next book, but rather I appreciated having read it and Amity and her family lingered with me for a while afterwards.

I’d definitely recommend the book as Amaranth’s story is compelling – what would make a woman drive four days with no sleep, stopping only when she crashes her car? Although not a light and lazy poolside read, it’s worth picking up.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley, but the review reflects my honest opinions.

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