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Keep Sweet by Michele Dominguez Greene
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856141,824 (3.93)2

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This is a decent read, though at this point it does seem to feel as though all of these books with the same general plot all tell the same story with different character names. Granted, for good reason, but they really do all progress in essentially the same way, which also serves to make them fairly predictable. And, this one is no exception. Still worth the read though, if the subject matter sounds interesting to you. ( )
  TiffanyAK | Nov 14, 2017 |
This was a really good book. I couldn't put it down.
It did make me angry though. I know it's fictional, but its based on real events and real beliefs. I just... I just can't agree with polygamy. In my mind, that doesn't work.

I learned a lot of this book. Some I knew and some I didn't. I just can't believe that eleven year old girls are married off to men in their 50's. That woman are expect to give birth to a child every year they are married. Just blows my mind!

Gah! ( )
  Shahnareads | Jun 21, 2017 |
This short, harrowing young adult novel tells the story of Alva Jane, a fourteen-year-old girl living in a Fundamentalist Mormon community. The story is familiar to anyone who's previously read on the subject, and while the pages turn quickly, as you worry for Alva's safety and sanity, the overall experience leaves something to be desired. Alva's voice is inconsistent; sometimes she seems to know nothing about the "Gentile" outside world, at other times she explains her religion and community as if from an outsider's perspective. There's a lot of exposition, and a lot of clunky dialogue. And although this book is marketed as young adult, there's a brutal, graphic rape scene of Alva by a much older man that would make me hesitate recommending this to all but the most mature teenagers. I can only recommend this if you're really interested in the FLDS and want to read whatever you can on the subject. For the casual reader, I'd say skip it. Two and a half stars. ( )
1 vote allthesedarnbooks | Jul 25, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I found this young adult novel about life in a polygamist cult to be an incredibly compelling read. Alva Jane is the oldest daughter of a favored wife, and has enjoyed her childhood on the compound, oblivious to the darker tones that underpin her life. She is looking foward to marrying a young man in her community until one innocent stolen kiss shatters all their dreams. Married off to a violent abusive older husband, Alva Jane is forced to take a new look at her life and the lives of those around her.

Alva Jane reads as a complete and believable character with a strong narrative voice. I read this book through in one sitting, unable to walk away from Alva Jane and her suffering. An excellent novel, this book does deal realistically with the darkness of child marriage and so includes sex scenes that may be disturbing to some readers. A highly recommend read. ( )
  ForeignCircus | Jul 12, 2010 |
Reviewed by John Jacobson aka "R.J. Jacobs" for TeensReadToo.com

Alva Jane has grown up and forever known the world of Pineridge, a FLDS community in the borders of Utah. The Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints have treated her well, and through all that she's known, they've been right. Holy. And what's more, she's caught the eye of the sweetest boy in the community - Joseph John. When she realizes he shares these unguarded feelings for her as well, her life just seems to be happier and happier. After all, Joseph John has had dreams about being together. If he goes to the prophet, he can eventually have her as his wife. His first wife.

But when a new couple moves in to Pineridge, and the wife is less than thrilled to adjust to everything, things get worse. Suddenly, Alva Jane finds herself in a world of increasing clarity. Her father has his eyes on a loose girl of sixteen - and her mother, already fighting with seven other wives for her spot as top affection holder, isn't too pleased. And the brother of the prophet discovers his wife trying to escape - leading Alva Jane and her half-sister to witness her being punished in the name of the Lord. Things only get worse. And when Alva Jane finds herself in a sect scarier than ever before, the motto 'Keep sweet' doesn't seem so innocent anymore. And neither do the people.

Books involving polygamist religions and these types of troubled faiths are always hard to judge. On one hand, these stories are interesting to me, because they handle the importance of questioning and open faith, the importance of fair treatment, and many branches of psychological issues. Plus, more often than not, these cults and religions often have dire consequences involving the children at the heart of the community. While I find these to be positives to the plot, it may very well make other people feel uncomfortable. Rape, abuse, abandonment, and brain washing are all big parts of this novel. But if the reader can suck in their fears and questions, they are bound to find a book that is both compelling and an important look into the cult ideals we hear about, but never truly see first-hand.

Alva Jane is a protagonist who's hard to pin down. Greene's writing isn't bad, though it suffers from sometimes telling more than showing. However, the first-person narrative of Alva Jane is never really awkward, and the characters manage to come off the page pretty well, though some of the wives tend to blend together. Not that juggling so many secondary characters is easy by any means. The important characters are done well, though they manage sprinklings of depth that could have been expanded upon. What's most important is that through all of Alva Jane's hardships, the reader feels immense disappointment if she fails; triumph if she succeeds. More than once I found myself wondering how I came to care so much about her escaping her life - because you really don't see the growing affection with the character so easily.

While Greene showed a lot of strong points, her book could have been longer. The story was plotted well and it never had a dull moment, but she could have expanded more on her other characters and been better off later on for it. Also, sometimes it got slow if there were many paragraphs between dialogue and action. Usually the pace wasn't bad, but the times were noticeable when it was.

This is not a book for everyone. This book will not impress everyone, and some people will be put off by the horrific actions that happen. Its protagonist is strong. Its plot is strong, too - maybe too strong at some points. Either way, it hits home every point it means to. While the writing could have been a bit more polished in some areas, it managed to be more than I thought it was, and I have to commend Greene for writing about something - and researching it beforehand - that will affect many teens, and that needs to be told to the world. ( )
  GeniusJen | Jun 13, 2010 |
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Alva, not quite fifteen, is content with the strict rules that define her life in Pineridge, the walled community where she lives with her father, his seven wives, and her twenty-nine siblings until she is caught giving her long-time crush an innocent first kiss and forced to marry a violent, fifty-year-old man.… (more)

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