Thursday, September 12, 2019

Review: The Liar's Daughter - Megan Cooley Peterson

The Liar's Daughter
by Megan Cooley Peterson
Published: September 10, 2019 by Holiday House
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Cult

Piper was raised in a cult.
She just doesn't know it.

Seventeen-year-old Piper knows that Father is a Prophet. Infallible. The chosen one.

She would do anything for Father. That's why she takes care of all her little sisters. That's why she runs end-of-the-world drills. That's why she never asks questions. Because Father knows best.

Until the day he doesn't. Until the day the government raids the compound and separates Piper from her siblings, from Mother, from the Aunts, from all of Father's followers--even from Caspian, the boy she loves.

Now Piper is living Outside. Among Them.

With a woman They claim is her real mother--a woman They say Father stole her from.

But Piper knows better. And Piper is going to escape.

4 Stars
Piper knows her father is the Chosen One. He is a Prophet that is hoping to protect the people from the Government, from the poisonous food, from the radiation of cell phones. Living with the other children far from the community, Piper helps manage the other children and run end-of-the-world drills, preparing herself and the others for the day when they will be called upon. Only, that day doesn't come and Piper's father might not be telling the truth, because the Government has broken apart the community and Piper finds herself in a strange house, with a strange woman they say is her real mother, and with no idea what has happened to her siblings or the boy she loves. Ripped from the life she knows, Piper grapples with what she believes is the truth and the story she is being told, that she had been kidnapped and that everything she once knew was a lie.

Told from Piper's perspective, The Liar's Daughter alternates between past and present, giving readers a glimpse into life before and after the cult. Rather than focusing on the cult itself, something many authors do, Megan Cooley Peterson gives us only the perspective of one teen, Piper. We understand the beliefs as she understands them, we know her terror and concern about being separated from her family, and we feel just as she does when the kidnapping blow is delivered to her. Piper isn't the most likable character, her childhood upbringing and her family's manipulative beliefs have shaped her and she lacks the childlike, scared quality we expect of a kidnap victim. She instead plans, provokes, or dissociates, bringing a fierceness to her that felt realistic to me. She is a steadfast believer in her father, it is only through time that Piper begins to face the real truth. Jeannine, the woman who has taken her in for the Government as Piper believes, is really her mother and the interactions she has with Piper are so powerful. It is an incredible testament of the love and devotion a mother has for a child.

Megan Cooley Peterson does an incredible job of telling the harrowing story of Piper as she transitions into a life post-cult. The conditioning, the adjustment to life outside the community, and the frightening moments of Piper grappling with what is real and what is not, all bring a touch of realism to this emotional story. A tad on the predictable side, at least for this cult-book fan, The Liar's Daughter is a suspenseful and fascinating young adult read.

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