- Gepubliceerd op Amazon.com
I am quite fascinated with learning about different cultures and ways of life, and find the TV programs about the FLDS, Mormons, Amish, Polygamists etc fascinating. Some people call these organisations, and refer to these as cults, where others would call them religions or "ways of life". I find the people that take part in these programs intriguing. So when I read the blurb of this book, it did immediately grab my attention. I was also interested that the author Anne Montgomery had spoken to Flora Jessop, who escaped this way of life twice and who now helps others that want to leave these communities.
The cover shows a young female kind of hiding behind her long blonde hair. This female I would say is a good representation of Rose - one the main characters in the book. The title doesn't really give a great deal of information about the book or its contents but as you finish you reading you understand why it is the title. I'd say that "The Scent of Rain" represents the fact that the rain washes things away, both physically and metaphorically within the book. The title is a way of saying that the bad things can be washed away for Rose, Adan and even to an extent Brooke and that they can start anew.
I would say this book has more than just one main character. There is 16 year old Rose, who has been born into a branch the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that still practiced polygamy and were situated in Colorado City, near a small town called Hurricane. We meet Rose as she is down at the creek, she knows she should hurry home back to her chores but cannot resist putting her bare feet in the creek and wading in the cool water enjoying the sunshine first. When she returns home she knows she will be in trouble and she is severely punished by her mother Bliss. Bliss calls her daughter recalcitrant, (rebellious & unruly) and insists her daughter should remain clean and tidy at all times and dress and behave in line with the requirements of their Prophet, Eldon Higbee. Bliss regularly quotes the following to Rose "Dirty clothes prove one harbours dirty thoughts!"
Women and young girls should dress in a certain style of dress, that is to be made in a plain pastel colour and have a high neck, cover the arms and reach the ankles. The women are told to never cut their hair but to braid and roll it up high in their head. When Rose cannot confirm with all these stringent requirements it is common for her mother to strike her repeatedly with a wooden spoon, slap and strike her and put her in a small, dark room within her mothers closet, leaving her with no food or water. Rose's father, Logan Madsen stands by as his daughters are punished, just telling Bliss "Don't mark the face, mother!" A mark on the face would reduce Rose's potential to be married. One of Rose's regular chores is to wash and dress her younger sister Daisy. Sadly Daisy is disabled both mentally and physically, she has a genetic condition caused by the inter breeding of bloodlines within their community, called Fumarase Deficiency.
The community was originally created by just two families, the Barlows and the Jessops, and with the practice of polygamy and relatives marrying relatives, it has caused lots of birth defects. Later in the book a character called Dr Chase Allred actually attempts to explain the problems and how to prevent further genetic problems to the community but is just ignored as the people blindly believe that God wants them to live and procreate in this way. Any child that is born disabled is considered a punishment from God, sort of a "cross to bear" and be hidden away. God sends them to remind them to strive to be better, to reach their goal of one day joining him in the celestial kingdom. Everyone thinks that Daisy is stupid and doesn't know what is going on around her. Yet, on at least three occasions she shows she understands what is going on around and that in her own way she can communicate. When Rose washes Daisy she loves to splash in the water. Daisy also attempts to communicate with a little parakeet that was found and put in her room. It is the little parakeet and the fact the Prophet Eldon Higbee orders all pets and animals that are not working ones or for food must be killed by the person who owns them. There is an horrific scene where Logan and Bliss demand Rose help them place the parakeet in Daisy's hands so that they can move her hands and kill the animal! I won't reveal exactly what happens but the result is Rose running away.
I love that no matter what is done to Rose throughout the book she still keeps her spirit and she certainly needs that and a whisper of hope to survive everything that is thrown at her in this book.
Another character I love is 17 year old Adan, who is also running away, but is lucky to be found dehydrated and barely concious by Trak Benally. Trak was a medic in the army and his best friend is Dr Chase Allred. Between them they care for the mystery boy who tells them he is already 18 and is called Andy. Adan has no idea about the polygamist community nearby, yet become curious about Rose when he glimpses her on a few occasions. They end up together at one point, both trying to help the other within some really scary situations, but I won't go into those.
Another character in the book who I initially disliked but then in the end felt a little pity and sympathy towards was Marshal Sterling Buttars who is supposed to be head of the law enforcement for the area. However Sterling Buttars is a member of the community ruled by Prophet Eldon Higbee. So when problems arise and the Prophet orders them to be "taken care of" Sterling Buttars does as he is told as he is afraid of not getting into the celestial kingdom, or even having his wives taken away and being banished.
Logan Madsen has two wives and they are striving to please the Prophet so that he will assign them another wife. As when you have three wives and are procreating regularly you are almost guaranteed your place in the celestial kingdom with God! Though this doesn't excuse his behaviour and turning a blind eye to the harsh treatment of his daughters it reveals what his reasoning and motivation is.
When Sterling Buttar has to kill his pet dog he begins to resent the Prophet and his orders. Then when his youngest and third wife, Bonnie is found dead with her head and face battered he cannot just hide the crime. He ends up having to face up to what has happened and eventually the shock of who has killed Bonnie!
Brooke, the new child protection officer continues to come to dead ends in all the cases she has to pick up from the last person in the job. The majority of the reports were made by a man called Bob Wayland, a science teacher at the school. However Prophet Eldon Higbee has decreed that all the children should be home schooled and it appears that Bob has disappeared into thin air. Though there are plenty of little hints as to what may have happened to him when the school closed.
I could seriously go on and on about this book, it felt like a whole book series compacted into one book! The Scent of Rain covers so much, from the cult like community of polygamists continuing traditions that are not supposed still be happening, to the "outsiders" that live in the surrounding area. Then there's the different plots within the book, of a runaway boy called Adan hiding something, a young woman called Brooke who is harbouring her own secret and has just moved to the area to take over the job of Child Protection Services, to a man undercover in the area looking into unsolved disappearances in the area. This does sound a lot and makes you wonder how it all dovetails together but it really does. Almost everything leads back to the cult like society with its secrets and what some would call strange ways and traditions.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, though did find myself on occasion being irritated when the chapters changed and we moved onto something happening with another character when I wanted to stay with the one whose story I was engrossed in. It's a shame that this is a standalone book as I would have loved to read more about both Rose and Adan. As well as learning what happened to the characters that remain in the polygamist community, and those outsiders who have vowed to help anyone who wishes to escape as well as uncovering what happened to those people that just disappeared.
My immediate thoughts when finishing the book were, that is was an intriguing yet shocking story. This author has done extensive research into the culture and ways of life of those depicted in the book. It certainly makes you think twice about the poor children born into this way of life, and the fact they have little choice but to do as they are told.
I also want to add that this isn't a book you read and switch off from. It is thought provoking, both whilst you are reading it and after finishing it. I find it incredible to think that there could quite possibly be children out there in the same sort of position as Rose right now! Then thinking about Adan and his character is also a realistic story line today. We think, or I know I would like to think we live in a civilized society but the realism in this book and many other realistic fiction books certainly proves you don't know exactly what is happening behind closed doors! The Scent Of Rain is a book that stays with you, that you continue to think about long after finishing to read it.