The Haunting Tale of A Handless Girl : The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

Title : The Scared Lies of Minnow Bly
Author : Stephanie Oakes
Publisher : Penguin
Published : June 2015
Page : 400 pages
My Rating : 5/5

With a harrowing poetic voice, this contemporary page-turner is perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Julie Berry’s All The Truth That’s in Me, and the works of Ellen Hopkins.

The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is a hard-hitting and hopeful story about the dangers of blind faith—and the power of having faith in oneself.

Thought on This Book :

Anger is a kind of murder you commit in your heart. 

Stephanie Oakes, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly

This book is wicked. It’s wicked and good.

says ronald weasley.

Minnow Bly lost her hands due to the order from a crazy prophet in her religious cult. She also lost the whole of her cult “Community”, her family, her house, and also the boy she loves. She ended up in a Juvenile facility for criminal kids, where she met Angel, a girl who killed her uncle, and became her roommate.

She also met Dr. Wilson, a forensic psychologist from FBI who’s taken place as her counselor. But that’s not the only motive. He also wanted to know the truth about Community and its destruction, also about the prophet’s death.

Here, the tangled lies were carefully being untangled. The layered stories about Minnow Bly and the Community she lived within being revealed. At first, Minnow didn’t want to tell Dr.Wilson the whole truth. But as this story progressing, and her character was developing, we saw some glimpses of truth and in the end we can picture out what really happened with Minnow Bly’s life.

“Because I believe nobody benefits when the truth is buried. Lies have a way of turning poisonous over time. I want justice. And for purely selfish reasons, I want to solve this. But I also want to help you. I wasn’t lying about that.” Dr. Wilson to Minnow Bly

Let’s talk about the character. Minnow Bly is an interesting character, a very interesting one. She made a good heroine. Strong and smart. I don’t know if Stephanie Oakes wanted to portray her as a natural genius, but that’s what I could understand after surfing through her thoughts and narration. Her beginning was a dark world, a world without books or ability to read and write. No school. No science. No none.

But her development was amazing. After met Angel and other girls, then learned about literacy in the juvenile facility, she proved that she’s a smart girl. Her thoughts are provoking us to think. The struggle inside her to grip and believe, the flashback and lies and facts and everything burned to her memory is successively delivered to us. I love how she’s not only shoved the story to us, but actually also asked questions for us to answer.

The other characters are not so much explored like Minnow, but they’re somehow “complete”. Even for Philip, whose portion is not plenty but surely a major turning point for Minnow’s story. His story is compact and short, but interestingly it’s the one that stay the most in my mind. Other girls in the facility are interesting, but no one could beat Angel. Dr. Wilson is one of my favorite characters. At first, I also didn’t believe him, but his interaction and relationship with Minnow is my favorite thing. Jude… I don’t know how to feel about him. His portrayal is so twisted, he’s caring but scary. He’s scary but loving. But in the end, I’m kind of glad about Minnow conclusion about him.

“The key is choosing what you remember,” she says. “Choose the happy things, ’cause the bad things are waiting at the corners of your mind for the moment you’re not ready.” Angel to Minnow Bly.

The plot building though, done so nicely by Stephanie Oakes. How the facts and mysteries began to unfold, and how she placed them in now and then format is so well written. The writing, oh my god, it’s really beautiful and haunting. I enjoyed how we’re being played throughout the story, guessing who is the culprit behind this major incident. But at some point the writing is a horror. There are so many eerie scenes in this book. I cringed and shudder at some scenes. The cult is crazy. The punishment scenes are crazy. They made my head dizzy, the cruelty and goriness inside this book. As I typed this review, honestly I still can’t shake the dizzy feeling upon remembering those scenes.

And, oh, I just knew that this book is actually a retelling of The Handless Maiden, a fairy tale collected by Brother Grimms. I tried to search the tale in my copy of The Complete Illustrated Fairy Tales of Brother Grimms but couldn’t found it. But I found it under another title, which is The Girl Without Hands. This story of Minnow Bly took so many references from it, including the “angel”, pear, evil’s deception, and silver hands. But although it’s a retelling from a fairy tale, it certainly has its own taste. It’s different, although with same grim atmosphere engulfing both.

illustration of the handless maiden , fairy tale

This book is probably one of the best books I read this year. The twisted and wicked side of this book owns me. This story about searching for what to believe and freedom is intriguing. It’s dark and eerie at some point. It’s also cruel and sickening, but I think that’s the main charm of this book.

I think, in its own way, this book was having some conversation with me.
It’s indeed a great book, best debut this year for me. I can’t wait to read Stephanie Oakes’s other books.

And, oh. This part got me cracking up like, oh god… lmao. I’m going to heaven.

“I just think it don’t make sense not to believe in God. If I believed and He turned out to be fake, how am I gonna know that after I’m dead? I’ll be stuck in the ground with nothing on my mind except there better not be any worms trying to get inside my coffin. But if I didn’t believe and He’s actually real, well then I just got myself a life sentence in Hades with like, fire pokers jabbing my ass and having to sit in a Jacuzzi of boiling oil with Hitler and shit, and you’re crazy if you think I’ll be putting up with that kind of treatment for the rest of time, no sir. This bitch is going to heaven.” Tracy to Minnow Bly.

Well, tell me about your thought about this book or review 🙂


This review is part of NARC 2015-What’s in the name.


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