Drink The Kool Aid: The Right and The Real by Joelle Anthony
I can’t remember the last book that kept me up reading through the night. They don’t come along often. I really love my sleep. But I loved The Right and The Real even more. I started it before bed, figuring I would read a few chapters, but ultimately could not put it down. And it was worth every bit of book hangover the next day.
It’s hard enough for Jamie to watch her father get remarried, but things get a lot more complicated when his new marriage leaves her out on the streets. In marrying Mira, Jamie’s dad pledges to enter the church of The Right and The Real, a cult in which members believe that The Teacher is in fact Christ on Earth. At the group wedding ceremony, Jamie is expected to sign her pledge to the church, too, but she refuses. Since Jamie will not commit to the church, she is no longer allowed to communicate with her family or her boyfriend, who is also a church member.
Jamie hasn’t exactly lived the good life–her dad is an ex-alcoholic and her mom took off years ago–but she has always had a roof over her head, food in her stomach, and somebody else to clean the bathroom. She took the basics for granted until she didn’t have them anymore. Kicked to the curb, Jamie is forced to get back on her feet and find a place to stay and a job to support herself, all while trying to appear normal in front of her friends and teachers.
When the church begins to ask for more from Jamie’s father than he anticipated, can she forgive him? Can she get him out? Or is it too late?
Oh, The Right and The Real, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
- This book scores major bonus points for its remarkable characterization, complete with teens who have genuine interests, hobbies, and ambitions. Fashion, theater, film. I love to read about people who are passionate about what they do and willing to fight to make their dreams a reality.
- There is suspense! There is action! There is romance! This is a contemp with a little of everything for everyone, and a pace that keeps propelling you forward until you’ve reached the last page and can’t believe what time it is and how long it’s been since you last remembered to breathe or eat or stretch your legs. It is completely and utterly engrossing.
- Anthony’s characters are unlike those in any other book I’ve read recently, or possibly ever. Jamie moves into a seedy rent-by-the-week (and possibly the hour, if that’s what you need) kind of building. Her neighbor, LaVon, is an intimidating ex-con who turns out to have a big heart and a love of fair trade chocolate and gourmet hot plate cooking. He may look like he can kick your ass–and he can–but when it comes to protecting Jamie, he uses his powers for good and not for evil.
- I probably should have led with this, but The Right and The Real includes a hot barista. I know, chocolate and coffee. Between that and the sleep deprivation from reading, I am more than willing to join Joelle Anthony’s cult of YA. Jamie gets a job at a coffee shop that happens to be managed by Trent, an amazing guy who comes with free mochas. Nothing makes me swoon like free coffee.
I could go on and on, but my raving cannot do this book justice. This is the kind of book that makes it difficult for me to think in complete sentences because there’s just so much book love sloshing around in my brain (and also maybe coffee). The fact of the matter is that the characters of The Right and The Real are the ones who can most easily convince you to fall in love with their story. This is a book that I’ll be keeping on my shelf so that I can open its pages and spend time with some of my favorite fictional friends again and again.
Fans of Tara Kelly’s Amplified and Denise Jaden’s Losing Faith are sure to fall in love with The Right and The Real.