Published by Disney-Hyperion on June 7th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
eARC provided by Disney-Hyperion
The woods were insane in the dark, terrifying and magical at the same time. But best of all were the stars, which trumpeted their light into the misty dark.
Castella Cresswell and her five siblings-Hannan, Casper, Mortimer, Delvive, and Jerusalem- know what it's like to be different. For years, their world has been confined to their ramshackle family home deep in the woods of upstate New York. They abide by the strict rule of God, whose messages come directly from their father.
Slowly, Castley and her siblings start to test the boundaries of the laws that bind them. But, at school, they're still the freaks they've always been to the outside world. Marked by their plain clothing. Unexplained bruising. Utter isolation from their classmates. That is, until Castley is forced to partner with the totally irritating, totally normal George Gray, who offers her a glimpse of a life filled with freedom and choice.
Castley's world rapidly expands beyond the woods she knows so well and the beliefs she once thought were the only truths. There is a future waiting for her if she can escape her father's grasp, but Castley refuses to leave her siblings behind. Just as she begins to form a plan, her father makes a chilling announcement: the Cresswells will soon return to their home in heaven. With time running out on all of their lives, Castley must expose the depth of her father's lies. The forest has buried the truth in darkness for far too long. Castley might be their last hope for salvation.
The Cresswell Plot is about a “cult-like” family known for their religious beliefs and the way they live. Castella Cresswell is the main character. She has recently been sent to a public school after DCF got involved. If only they had stay involved. The Cresswells are living in their ramshackle home, without power or running water, and that home is lorded over by her father. He expects obedience and offers strict punishment to those who don’t follow rules. Some of their beliefs go beyond the mentality that they will be the only ones to go to heaven. These beliefs include incest to protect the bloodline, and now a return to their heavenly home. Castella wants out of her father’s home, but she needs to figure out how to get her siblings out as well.
I am not sure how to even start this review. My first thought at this family was horror. People live like this, even today! Mom is mostly absent from their lives and their father is horrible. This is religion gone so wrong. Can you imagine living without power and water? That’s barbaric. As Castella describes her brother/intended I was dumbfounded. Her father not only suggested incest between his three female and three male children, he demanded it. The kids all struggled with reconciling God with their lives.
Okay, although this story was weird, I was strangely fascinated by it. Castella’s response to her situation is believable and heartbreaking. Castella sees her brothers getting punished and sent to a cave, and this action catapults her questioning everything about their lives. Since their mother is mostly silent and their father is off the deep end, the children are left to figure things out for themselves. Castella gets a little help working things out because she makes a friend at school. His view of her helps her to understand that things are really wrong at home. I was sated with this friendship, even though it ended sort of in a hurry.
Although the context was somewhat unsettling, I found this book mostly entertaining. I don’t feel like I wasted my time reading this, it was just a really different type of read then I am used to. I had more than a few questions after I read this book, loads of things were left unanswered. I doubt this book will appeal to a lot of YA readers, it is really out there. The climax of this story was a bit disappointing, but I liked where Castella ended up.