Teenage Zenovia (Zee) has lived with her mother Audrey’s schizophrenia for 17 years. Audrey is on medication, and it helps, but Zee has had no real friends – no life, really – due to caring for her mother. To complicate matters, Audrey and Zee have visions, true visions, of the present and future which cause Zee to feel alienated and strange around others. And she never knows when her mother will be lucid or in one of her fits. One day, two women appear at the door and their lives change.
The two strange women, Charlotte and her daughter Alyssa, are members of The Brethren of the Sacrifice. Alyssa is Zee’s age. They convince Audrey and Zee to attend a meeting at their Devotion Center. Zee and Audrey have attended many churches, but this one is very different. There is no devotion to God, no regular Church, just a building. The devotion consists of The Brethren’s own strange interpretation of the Scriptures. Zee intuitively knows that something is off, but for the first time in her life, she has the chance for girlfriends her age and The Brethren teens include Zee in everything that teenage girls love. Soon she and Audrey are baptized and the horror begins.
As the cult begins to become darker and more judgmental and controlling, Zee finds herself drawn into a non-Brethren relationship with Emil, although she has a crush on Tristan, who puts his faith in the Brethren before his heart or his head. Audrey marries Phillip, a Brethren member within two weeks. Phillip demands that Audrey stop her medications and Audrey starts to act strangely again. Zee falls in love with Emil and loses her virginity and Emil breaks up with her to marry the woman who is carrying his child. In order to clear up her life and her emotions, Zee confesses to Tristan’s father, one of the Elders, and they serve a Chastening on her – she is a virtual outcast and is not allowed near any of her friends. Audrey and Phillip turn against her. Wounded and scared, Audrey leaves 6 months later to attend Howard University where she feels her Black roots reside. She stays with Corinne, her cousin, who is glad that Zee is free of the cult. Zee remains celibate, thinking that God will not forgive her one sin, although she realizes that is not God’s way.
Zee’s path leads her to the Church of Revelations, where she sees Justin, Tristan’s older brother. Once a devoted Brethren, he too is now an outcast by his own choice.
As Zee tries to take care of her mother in her thoughts, she finally finds her true path and Bishop Wilcox of the Church of Revelations sees her visions as what they truly are – a gift from God.
The ending is sad and happy as is life. I enjoyed this quiet, lovely and honest novel about Zee’s journey back to herself. This novel does not pack its punch loudly, but gracefully exhales with a soft tenderness that has made me a fan of Tiffany Warren.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Book Review by Broad “A” – Ava
In the Midst of It All is available for pre-order from Amazon.com for $9.44
Thank you to the Hachette Book Group for providing this title for our book review as well as this giveaway. We were in no way paid or compensated for our opinions.
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