Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.
Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl–Rose–running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.
With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father’s age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust? (goodreads.com)
Montgomery writes a compelling, gripping story about a girl trying to escape a cult and the passive observers around her who are finally forced into action. I couldn’t stop reading and practically swallowed the book whole. Montgomery doesn’t use a lot of flowery, overwritten language to tell her story and sticks to short, succinct passages of time and chapters that make the book feel effortless to read.
It was horrifying to read about the FLDS community up in Colorado City and even more horrifying to know that, while this story was fictionalized, such a cult does occupy the area at the Arizona/Utah border. And yes. These guys are a cult. And just like the first amendment doesn’t protect all free speech, it shouldn’t protect all aspects of religion, especially the abusive, pedophilloic aspects of it. It’s one thing when adults are consenting to this kind of idiocy. It’s quite another when girls as young as 13 for forced into purely procreative marriages with men old enough to be their grandfather while the boys are effectively ejected from their world because they’re useless. When the story went into the POV of the “Prophet” it was grotesque. The man was basically a pedophile and made all the woman under his rule dress in a manner that made them look like children so he could, quite literally, get off. Gross.
Rose’s story was heartbreaking and I couldn’t help but root for her as she slowly broken the chains that bound her. Adan, while a great character whom I liked, felt like a weird insert into this world that didn’t quite fit into this grander puzzle. He fit close enough, but not cleanly so even within the confines of the story he felt like an outsider placed there in order to move the story forward. Didn’t stop me from plowing through the story, but he’s the one slightly off element for me.
THE SCENT OF RAIN asked a lot of valid questions, especially centering around Chase and Trak as they came to terms with what they were seeing. They’ve basically spent their lives being silent approvers of what’s been going on and claiming they didn’t know how far it’d gotten. But when something’s happening right under your nose, how ignorant can you be about it? And these two characters really struggled with that toward the end of the story, including a woman within the cult, Beth, who left and came back and had a hard time swallowing what was going on. A definite (probably unintentional) parallel to what’s happening in our society today. At what point is it too much? How far down the slippery slope can one slide before they’re about to crash into a raging river?
The end was a bit anticlimactic for me. I wish there was more comeuppance for the Prophet than what we received but I guess that’s reality, right? Cut off one head of the hydra and three more grow back. Changing the minds of the indoctrinated is a difficult, nearly impossible, thing.
What really hit me were Montgomery’s notes at the end about how she went up to Colorado City to do research and how eerie everything around her was, especially about the children and how they treated outsiders. It makes my skin crawl.
Montgomery’s THE SCENT OF RAIN is an excellent addition to all of the information out there about the FLDS cults that exists and what’s going on. It’s frustrating to know that is it so difficult to take children out of these environments because of the unwillingness of the adults to testify against the men running their lives. And the inbreeding that’s happening and the children suffering in such awful ways as a result of that inbreeding. It’s horrifying. I don’t think people truly understand that this isn’t about freedom of religion but about the absolute control of a few over many, often to satiate latent sexual desires. It’s gross and these cults shouldn’t be allowed to exist, at least not when children are involved. If adults want to be idiots and do that to themselves, fine. But when children can’t make those decisions on their own they shouldn’t be forced into it.
The only real complaint I have is that the digital copy I received was a bit sloppy. This isn’t a self-published book but it is published with a small indie and it would have benefited from a line edit and formatting checks before being released. I ended up with some missing words in sentences, page numbers in the middle of the text, and scene shifts with no demarcation, to name a few. But I was so engrossed with the story that I was hardly bothered by these things.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.