Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence

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Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Rose and her brother have left a fundamentalist religious sect and each have their own problems adjusting to the worldly world. Themes of revenge porn infuse a tale of conflicted sibling loyalties in a sensitive novel.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: July 2019
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1444940657

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Rose and her brother Rudder have recently escaped from cult-like fundamentalist Christian sect, the Pilgrims, along with their mother. While Mum works endless hours at agency cleaning jobs trying to keep the rent paid on their tiny flat, Rose and Rudder are trying to navigate the worldly world. It's not easy when everything is new and the rigid rules you've always lived by are suddenly missing.

Rose is excited by it all. She's got into fashion and has adopted a colourful fairy kei look, a world away from the modest clothing of the Pilgrims. She's found herself a boyfriend in Kye and is both exhilarated and terrified by the physical aspects of a relationship with a boy. She lets Kye take pictures of her - something even Mum, who is relieved to be away from the cult, would not approve of. Rudder, on the other hand, is intimidated by this new life. He doesn't understand it at all and feels as though he is constantly making mistakes. He'd prefer to return to the Pilgrims and certainty.

And when Rudder does make a mistake, he sets in train a cascade of events that run out of control. And Rose doesn't see any other way out of it than to make the ultimate sacrifice: to go back to her father and the Pilgrims. But even that doesn't work...

Rose, Interrupted covers a lot of ground: from the sexualisation of young people through conflicted sibling loyalties to the dynamics of fundamentalist religion. But it has a singular purpose: to understand the problems young people face and how they deal with them both inside and outside the family. Rose and Rudder are both relatable and engaging characters and the mystery at the heart of the story is well developed. It was a pleasure to read - although hard hitting at times.

If I had one criticism, it would be that the novel is overly long for the story told. There are four hundred pages and I think more tension could have been achieved by cutting some. The mystery plot about the revenge porn lost a little for this reason, I think. It could have done with a pacier telling.

But this is just a nit pick. Rose, Interrupted covers a lot of ground: the dynamics and difficulties of life inside a fundamentalist Christian sect; the dynamics and difficulties of life outside in the worldly world; poverty and insecure employment; revenge porn; sibling relationships. This last, I found the most touching and impactful. Rose and Rudder have very different reactions on leaving the Pilgrims and they each feel extremely protective of the other. But this strong basis for their relationship doesn't mean that problems and conflicts are avoided: quite the opposite, in fact. This tension, loving at times, conflicted at others, permeates the whole book and it's both credible and truly impactful. I won't forget Rose and Rudder for a long time.

Rose, Interrupted is a sensitive but honest coming-of-age story told with the signature compassion and clarity we've come to expect from Patrice Lawrence. She's tackling all the issues faced by young people and she never tells them what to think.


You might also enjoy The Angel Collector by Bali Rai,a tense thriller about a boy searching for his best friend, whom he believes has joined a cult. All the Invisible Things by Orlagh Collins looks at the porn explosion in terms of addiction. We also liked Outstanding by Kathryn Flett.

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