Patrice Lawrence has created a masterpiece of emotional storytelling that breaks your heart, ignites your fury and offers hope in Rose Interrupted that kept me up to the early hours for ‘just one more chapter’.
A dual narrative YA novel that tells the story of two siblings and their mother negotiating the world now they have left a strict religious sect; one so desperate to ‘decommission’ she embraces everything the Pilgrims stood against yet her innocence drags her into trouble; and her brother so desperate to return to the only life he felt fit him.
The consequences of social media, the manipulation and exploitation of teenage girls and toxic masculinity culminate in a heavy but heartfilled plot.
The story is full of heart wrenching and excruciatingly raw moments of innocence. I’m not the ‘intended audience’ but I remember the struggle of trying to find yourself and fit in when you didn’t quite have the map and directions, and how it seemed some were more lost than I and then others had a Sat Nav to social success.
Rose is emotionally much more young and tender than her age and whilst in some is a facet of their personality, this has been created by her cloistered childhood in the Pilgrims and is a constant companion to her choices and behaviour. She wants to be ‘worldly’ and embrace the opposite of her childhood because she believes it’s the only way to ‘decommission’.
Whilst going mad and free with the makeup and clothing is less harmful in the scheme of things, it’s the emotional and relationship milestones she is unprepared for.
However it is harsh and ultimately easier for adults to say that her past is responsible for her mistakes when other girls have made the same and grown up in the ‘worldly’ society. It feels less uncomfortable to blame her religious sheltering than accept the behaviours and consequences of toxic masculinity have got out of control.
Lawrence reiterates clearly throughout the toxicity of both righteous and debauched masculinity serving as counterpoints to the society that holds itself up as better than the alternative- prude or rude, godly or worldly and the heartbreak in between where this family struggle to find a way to exist in the middle.
This book is just simply beautiful, I raged, cheered and wept for Rose and her family, struggling so desperately to find some normality in an unforgiving world.
Rose Interrupted – Patrice Lawrence is published by Hodder (Hachette)