Recommended for ages 13+
Fifteen year-old Pearl’s life revolves around Seed. It’s the community she was born into; a land where Nature provides everything she could ever dream of, where the Kindred – the grown men of the community – are like beloved uncles, and where their spiritual leader and father figure, Papa S., teaches them that Nature will provide for them and punish them, if necessary. The outside world is corrupt, but Nature will favor the residents of Seed – as long as they abide by Papa S.’s rules.
When an outside family seeks refuge at Seed, Pearl struggles to maintain her belief in Papa S., Seed, and Nature – but as events become more difficult to reconcile, things are getting more and more difficult for Pearl to believe. Pearl will discover that there are many secrets at Seed, but can she face living once she discovers what’s really going on?
The community at Seed goes beyond cult, beyond closed community. It’s a horrific combination of the two, a community where men use bullying, grooming, and most egregiously, faith, to create a life where women have no power and are victimized from the moment they reach sexual maturity. They withhold education and limit contact with the outside world, always watching, to make sure that the children of Seed abide by Papa S.’s rules – but really, to keep them in the dark so that they can feed them lies under the guise of religion.
I received an advanced reader copy of Seed from Running Press, and tore right in, finishing the book in three days. It is a book that evokes visceral reactions – I was upset, I was horrified, I was angry. I wanted these children to see the lies and manipulations and walk away, to find justice for themselves and anyone who suffered at the hands of their captors – because really, that’s what Papa S. and the so-called Kindred are.
The characters, dialogue, and story pacing will draw you in and won’t let you go until you turn that last page. Even then, this is not a book that you will walk away from lightly. It will leave you shaken and changed. It’s a book I want to see in teenagers’ hands and talked about in discussion groups. I want this book on library shelves and in librarian’s hands, making sure kids read it.
Seed is an important book for an age where people are still looking for something to believe in. Do not miss this book.