I recently had the chance to read Seed by debut author Lisa Heathfield.
All that Pearl knows can be encapsulated in one word: Seed. It is the isolated community that she was born into. It is the land that she sows and reaps. It is the center of her family and everything that means home. And it is all kept under the watchful eye of Papa S.
At fifteen years old, Pearl is finally old enough to be chosen as Papa S’s companion. She feels excitement... and surprising trepidation that she cannot explain. The arrival of a new family into the Seed community — particularly the teenage son, Ellis — only complicates the life and lifestyle that Pearl has depended upon as safe and constant.
Ellis is compelling, charming, and worldly, and he seems to have a lot of answers to questions Pearl has never thought to ask. But as Pearl digs to the roots of the truth, only she can decide what she will allow to come to the surface.
I was super excited to read this book! When I read that description, I was hooked! I know we always make jokes about "drinking the kool-aid" or cult mentality. But how would it be to read from the POV from someone who is actually on the inside? Who believes whole-heartedly that what her leader says is law?
We get that experience with Pearl because she cannot imagine a better place in the world to live than Seed. No one is hungry at Seed. No one is unhappy at Seed because Nature provides everything they need and communicates to the community through Papa S. Papa S leads the family in his loving ways and Pearl is so excited to finally be a woman, to be considered to be his Companion. This was such an interesting read! It was definitely not for the faint of heart because the observant reader quickly picks up on the emotional and sexual abuse going on in the background of this utopia. But our narrator Pearl is completely naive. I'm not going to lie, at first I wasn't a big fan of newcomer Ellis. He came off very arrogant and I felt like he treated Pearl like she was stupid for her beliefs. But I slowly grew to understand that his attitude was that of a teenage boy who is forced into an unfamiliar territory that goes against everything that he was ever taught. Other than Ellis's occasional bought of teenage moodiness and arrogance, my only other (slight) problem with this book was how quickly the book seemed to rush to the end. It felt like the majority of the book was building to something that in the end, was over rather quickly. That being said, what happened in the end blew me away and I'm surprised the author went with the ending she did. I would recommend this to 16+ readers who are emotionally mature enough to deal with the adult nature of this book. Its a great read and I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy a female protagonist that isn't traditionally "strong". Pearl has doubts, she cries, she is at times naive, she's not physically any stronger than a normal 15 year old girl, but she has an inner strength that pushes her to do the right thing that I really admire. *I received a free ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. This in no way influenced my review.