The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass delves into the world of one young girl as she realizes that maybe things aren’t right with her family.
**An advance reader’s copy of The Cresswell Plot was given to me for an honest review.** I tend to be very wary of books that mention religion or God in them, not because I don’t believe in God, but because I very much do. Thus, it makes me aware that whenever religion has a place in the story, I feel that sense of guarding my beliefs and yet being open to what the story has to say. Because of that, I was able to give my full attention to the story the author wanted to tell.
The story is told from the point of view of a teenage girl named Castley, and revolves around her and her family, which includes her five siblings. Their father has created a different kind of life for them that is quite unlike the that of your average teenager. Her and her siblings have been taught to believe they are special in God’s eyes.
Of course, we see the twisted way their father has melded their minds, having them believe they don’t need to be healed by modern medicine, even when it’s a broken leg or a broken collarbone or a dislocated shoulder. He would have them believe that everyone else on the earth is evil and they’re the only ones going to heaven. He would have them believe his own “religious” writings are of God.
But due to an incident that brought on the eyes of an outsider, all of siblings were forced to go to public school. They were made fun of or looked upon strangely until they weren’t. Until they were ignored. But still, their father had strict rules for them and his influence seemed almost unbreakable. That is, until they started thinking differently, most especially Castley.
This is how the story goes. We first find out what life is like for the children, and it’s not good. We look into something that’s probably not as familiar to us or not as extreme when it comes to the influence of those in our lives. As young ones are expected to do, they come to believe their father and what he says. They come to believe that their way of living is right because that’s what their parents have hammered into their minds.
What we’re supposed to remember is that, as disgusting or disturbing or ridiculous as their father has been in making them believe the nonsense they’ve been led to believe, it’s possible for children to believe it. They are, after all, children. And when your parents tell you something as truth, are you not supposed to believe them? So, yes, we take a look into that, and for me, I can see it being something that is possible. I believe it as something that has happened to real people, where they believed what was being told to them.
That’s the first interesting part of the story. It’s disturbingly believable, but it’s also just disturbing, and the author writes about these children’s turmoil in a way that does feel realistic. For that reason, the further I read into the book, the more I had a hard time putting it down.
The rest of the story deals with the events that lead Castley to realize the untruths that were spoken to them all. It’s certainly not exactly an immediate revelation to her, but seeing Castley’s mind take in her situation, and that of her family, and comparing it with the few that have broken through to her, including a boy that she’s been forced to partner with in her Drama class, is profound.
The final scene may have been a bit abrupt, but it still wasn’t hard to see this all happening as if it were real. I wouldn’t say it is real as in this happens often, but I would say it could be real because there are people out there that are like these children’s fathers, as has been shown time and time again in society.
Considering my belief in God, I know how easily people can twist the words of the Bible around to fit their own means, so maybe that’s why this story actually pulled me in and made it someone’s possibility. Because of that I know why people tend to lose their faith, and this book doesn’t go so far as making a plea for atheism. But it also doesn’t try to “preach” God’s truth to the readers. In actuality, this is more about not losing faith in yourself, and not losing faith for those that you love.
What I appreciated is that these characters are definitely not perfect. Not just because of how they were following their father’s untruths and basically accepting his abuse, but because of how they react to their situations, regardless whether it’s something admirable or very much less so. Wass shows that we don’t have to like all these siblings, but we have to try to understand them. My only complaint is that I wish she had expanded on that more with the siblings other than just Castley.
Overall, I found this a pretty good and quick read as it’s less than 300 pages long. For a debut novel, it was unique and impressive. I certainly wouldn’t mind reading more from Eliza Wass in the future.
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The Cresswell Plot hits stores June 7, 2016 and can be ordered at the following: