Book Review: Keep Sweet by Michele Dominguez Greene
I do love YA novels with nontraditional trajectories. Our protagonist Alva Jean is 14 years old and has grown up in a Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community in Utah. She’s never known anything outside Pine Ridge other than what she has heard in sermons (including institutionalized racism, mega-patriarchy and plural marriage), and hasn’t questioned it until she is one day made to witness the grisly punishment of a woman from her community.
Around the same time, an innocent first kiss lands Alva Jean on the wrong side of the community’s favor, a number of punishments happen, and she soon finds herself forcibly married to someone other than her teenage crush. This novel is stark, rough, and quite engrossing. The story seems to partially function to educate the reader about how problematic the FLDS church/cult can be (and simultaneously is sympathetic to the people living in it)– and if you’re like me and didn’t have any previous knowledge of it, you’ll gain a ton of new information.
The book was pretty great, but I think that the ending was a little too swift, easy, and unbelievable. I feel like this one could have easily become a two-book story (or following recent convention, a trilogy if things got stretched a little more)– but don’t let that stop you from reading it!