Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Review: Watch How We Walk by Jennifer LoveGrove

My interest in this stems from my fascination with the Jehovah's Witness religion. I have only general knowledge of their beliefs which is pretty ironic considering half of my family members are devout Witnesses, while the other half are Bible-toting Christian zeliks. Watch How We Walk by Jennifer LoveGrove is the jarring story of Emily Morrow, presented in alternating views of her younger self and as an adult, dealing with the divisive rules of the Jehovah's Witness religion.

Emily and her sister are raised in a strict home and are encouraged not to fraternize with "worldly" people. They are forbidden to read materials deemed worldly, practice holidays, celebrate birthdays, amongst other nos. To top it off, if they are caught doing something immoral, they will be disfellowshipped. For a young Emily, this all seems understandable since it is all she knows. Her older sister, Lenora, as a teenager is finding "The Truth" to be a big bunch of lies. Emily struggles with what to do as she sees her sister begin to disassociate herself with the religion.

Jennifer LoveGrove writes an emotional rollercoaster with Watch How We Walk where a family struggles with their religion, and honoring the rules to that religion. Emily wants to be a funambulist when she's older which seems very fitting given that she's always seems to be walking the line with her religion and coming into her own. The young Emily wants to nothing more than to be a full-time Pioneer, spreading the Truth to all who have not heard. But she also wants to be accepted. Her older self (which is told in first-person narrative) suggests she wants out. She wants to be as liberated as her sister, Lenora. Emily does not want to live in constant fear of the last days, or being disfellowshipped. She doesn't want to be forced not to speak with members of her family because her family/religion says so. 

The characters in Watch How We Walk are all so well developed that I must applaude LoveGrove for giving me people to care about. Although flawed, their struggles are evident on every page. A stern father who's dealing with the guilt of his past by plunging headfirst into the fellowship. He almost blindly follows all their rules and regulations to a fault. The mother, she's on a moving train that just won't slow down. She's the person who shows the most compassion for her family's situation. This family is very real and are easy to relate to.

I don't know if the differences between a person raised as a Jehovah's Witness turns out much different than one raised as a Christian. LoveGrace novel makes me think that the struggle to find self after enduring the restraints of either religion is a hard but worthy journey. Watch How We Walk is not for those expecting happy endings, rainbows, and butterflies but is still inspirational nontheless and should not be passed over.   ****

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