Author: Molly Dektar
Published: April 9, 2019
Publisher: Katherine Simon & Schuster
Where I picked up my book: Library
Key Words: family, coming of age, communal living (cult)
My Rating: 3
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
When a young woman leaves her family—and the civilized world—to join an off-the-grid community headed by an enigmatic leader, she discovers that belonging comes with a deadly cost, in this lush and searing debut novel.
At nineteen, Berie encounters a seductive and mysterious man at a bus station near her home in North Carolina. Shut off from the people around her, she finds herself compelled by his promise of a new life. He ferries her into a place of order and chaos: the Ash Family farm. There, she joins an intentional community living off the fertile land of the mountains, bound together by high ideals and through relationships she can’t untangle. Berie—now renamed Harmony—renounces her old life and settles into her new one on the farm. She begins to make friends. And then they start to disappear.
Thrilling and profound, The Ash Family explores what we will sacrifice in the search for happiness, and the beautiful and grotesque power of the human spirit as it seeks its ultimate place of belonging.
First I will say, this is the idea that has been spinning around in my head since I was a coffee-gulping, clove smoking, book loving English major who made her own clothes and had dreams of writing and reading for a living while living communally and off the land. Ohhhh to be a college kid again lol. I wrote a plot outline and bought a book to help me sketch out my ideas, but that’s about as far as I got. When I first read the synopsis of the book, I yelped, “this is THE book.” I was excited to dig in!
The good: I thought that the descriptions and writing itself was beautiful. I was in those woods, smelling those smells and experiencing those adventures. I also loved the idea of exploring communal living and the way Dektar wrote some of these characters was fantastic! Climate change is real and I loved how this was shown and America’s denial was mentioned. That’s using your author power for good 🙂 And sign me up for anything that has cult-y feels to it! I am completely enamored by cult stories.
The not so great: As for plot and actual story line, I think there was a bit more that could have been explored and it, at times, fell a bit flat for me. That is a big deal for me. There wasn’t much happening and I found my brain wandering a little bit as I was reading. Also, I am not always opposed to an unreliable narrator, but here it didn’t serve me in any way.
Overall, it was a good story line and one that I really wanted to love. With a bit more happening in the story, I think I would have LOVED this book, but as it stands-it was just an okay read for me. With that said, I’m really looking forward to what else Dektar has to offer us-I think she shows fantastic potential with this debut title.
Did you read The Ash Family? What did you think? Let me know here, or over on Instagram (bookishfolk). Also-throw any and all cult/communal living books my way! I am obsessed and still looking for the one that got away 😉