Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Review: The Right & The Real by Joëlle Anthony

Title: The Right & The Real
Author: Joëlle Anthony
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publisher: Putnam (Penguin)
ARC, 280 pages
Date Published: April 26, 2012
Source: Publisher
Description (Taken from Goodreads):
Kicked out for refusing to join a cult, seventeen-year-old Jamie must find a way to survive on her own.

Jamie should have known something was off about the church of the Right and the Real from the start, especially when the Teacher claimed he wasn’t just an ordinary spiritual leader, but Jesus Christ, himself. But she was too taken by Josh, the eldest son of one of the church’s disciples, and his all-American good looks. Josh is the most popular boy at school too, and the first boy outside the drama geeks to give Jamie a second look. But getting her Dad involved in a cult was not part of the plan when she started dating Josh. Neither was her dad’s marriage to the fanatic Mira, or getting kicked out, or seeing Josh in secret because the church has deemed her persona non grata.

Jamie’s life has completely fallen apart. Finding her way back won’t be easy, but when her Dad gets himself into serious trouble, will Jamie be ready to rescue him, and maybe even forgive him?
Joëlle Anthony’s sophomore novel is a harsh and severe look into the life of struggling teen Jamie, in the aftermath of her refusal to join a cult. The Church of the Right & the Real looks okay from the outside. Members are religious and kind and care for one another, but in reality, they worship a man who claims he is the Jesus and they give up their life at the drop of a hat. When Jamie’s dad gets sucked in, brainwashed, marries another member, and kicks Jamie to the curb, her life falls apart. But with her dreams of NYC and more determination and strength than most others her age, she manages. Barely.

Jamie is easily one of the strongest female heroines I’ve read. Despite losing everything, she soldiers on and fights to follow her dreams. She suffers, sure, but at one point, she realizes she’s just getting by and that’s not enough. Not to make a life. So she changes that. Readers will be completely taken by Jamie; by her will to move on, but also by her need to do something to save her father. Even though she has so many strengths, Anthony is sure to make her vulnerable, because she is vulnerable. A 17 year old girl, all alone for the first time ever cannot have it easy, and Jamie doesn’t.

But that’s where the big, hulking, scary motel neighbor LaVon comes in. He’s incredible and I love him! LaVon and Jamie almost have that parent/child relationship that’s lacking because Jamie’s dad lost his marbles and joined a cult. LaVon's there for Jamie when no one else is. He's not perfect and he's certainly a little terrifying, but he's there.

The story deals with quite a few issues, but there’s also this deliciously sweet and perfect build-up to a relationship for Jamie. She has a boyfriend who’s a member of the Right & the Real and there’s clearly a lot of struggle for them because of it, but Jamie sticks to her guns when it’s the hardest. She stands up for her beliefs and she grows so much throughout the book because of it. The new guy Trent also sneaks into the story and brings a lighthearted edge to an otherwise serious plot. He is fabulous in so many ways and I want him for myself.

The Right & The Real is one of those books that take you by surprise. You pick it up expecting a good story, but then find yourself unable to put it down. I was reading into the late hours of the night/wee hours of the morning because I had to know how Jamie would survive, if her dad would wake up, whether or not the Right & the Real would win, if she’d dump her somewhat douchey boyfriend, and if she could let the harmless flirting with coffee boy Trent turn into something more. Believe me when I say that the love story aspect plays very little into the plot, but the characters, oh the characters, they are phenomenal. Read it for Jamie. Read it every little thing I said here and for every little thing I had to leave out. You won’t be disappointed.

Opening line: The tight collar of the bridesmaid dress didn’t help my bad mood. ~ pg. 1

Favorite lines/passages: “It said You’ll have to leave everything behind. At the end of the dance, walk me to my car and get in.” ~ pg. 228
cryptic, right?

*This is the ARC version and lines, pages, cover art may differ from final copy
*This review is my honest opinion and I received no monetary compensation from it. 
Find Joëlle Anthony online:

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Joelle said...

Thanks for the great review!

Candace said...

I felt the same way! This book totally blew me away! I absolutely LOVED it! I'm happy to see someone who felt the same way. :)
I reviewed it on Novels, News & Notes rather than my own blog (though I might review it there as well) and if you want to read it it's here:

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