Author: Carolyn Cohagan

Publisher: She Writes Press

ISBN:  978 163 152 0723.

What would you do if you were fifteen years old and your family is now going to present you at home at what is referred to as your Offering?  You will be properly attired and not allowed to show your face or any major part of you body in public or will be publically disgraced. What would you do as you are paraded in front of possible husbands or suitors while they discuss the terms and you are sold to the highest bidder?

Mina Clark is smart, headstrong and strong willed. She has opinions of her own that often get her in trouble with her mother. While understanding that her day has come she is concerned and upset about her Nana being in the hospital and denied access to visiting her. But, Mina wants to follow the rules but her grandmother’s secret has to be protected first. Although her mother wants her to prepare for the Offering, she manages to sneak out of her house, get to her grandmother’s; dealing with the guards and their scans to find the precious Primer that she has hidden away. Girls are not allowed to learn to read but she is using this precious book to teach Mina.

If it is found there will be trouble and she will face heavy consequences. Along the way there she tries to save a young woman from being stoned and hoping to keep the Primer from notice. Although the stoning takes place, many men decide to participate one stands out and tries to rescue Mina from the violence.

Rescued by a young man named Juda and hoping to see him again Mina faces many punishments if she is caught. Dealing with her parents, the contract that they want signed by the Asher family sealing her fate in marriage to Damon, a spoiled and high maintenance teen thinking he is the ruler of the nest, we learn many things about what men feel about women, their place and their right to abuse and lord over them. Mina realizes her duties but disobeying her parents would bring her grief but finding the Primer was her one last link to her Nana who she was told died. Meeting Damon Asher, his father and invited to dinner at his home she starts to bond with his unorthodox and quite spirited mother who defies all rules herself. Getting Mina to drink champagne and slightly drunk angers her husband, Damon shows his true colors and Mina finds herself locked in a world filled with opulence, riches and fear.

When Juda arrives at her home with this invitation and the contract is finally signed why does she feel drawn to this manservant and what happens at the Asher home is it a reflection on the abuse she will endure forever? Locked in a room with no light, windows, food or bathroom for more than a day she begins to feel ill and when the door opens she is thrown into you might say a lion’s den. Juda seems to be her salvation but when Damon enters her room and wants to take advantage of her what Juda does will send them both on the run. A story of lust, hate, revenge, deceptions, lies, greed and the yearn for power over others. A story that will take you deep into the future of Manhattan where the there are barriers between classes, caste systems that define the citizens, one man who runs the water plant and a young girl whose father thinks he knows what is best for Mina. Teachers,

Deservers, Convenes, Twitchers and a man named Uncle Ruho who runs it all as Mina’s mother seeks to get her married using her social climbing ways. When her mother punishes her for leaving the house and causes her to get burned Mina realizes she needs another strategy to survive. When your own mother and brother cause you pain and then she destroys the Primer, which is her last link to her Nana, her life could end because she realizes Mina can read. 

If you read the papers, search the internet and research the many different customs, mores and religions around the world you will find one or more that you can identify with Mina’s. Many countries require that parents choose their daughter’s spouse. Many orthodox families in many religions still adhere to this way of thinking. With young girls in Afghanistan and all over the world being abused and mistreated this story really hits the mark. When Mina voices her opinion, Damon’s father realizes his lies and Mina’s social climbing mother is about to face disgrace and possibly losing their position and having to become Convenes.

When Juda realizes what Damon has planned what he does puts them both on the run and in danger. Just how far will Mina go to gain her freedom, be with Juda and survive. A letter that she reads to Mrs. Archer reveals a harsh reality that has been kept from her for years and the picture changes drastically and the anger among the family is fearful. Realizing what her grandmother’s message was and the meaning of the single leaf that she found in the Primer she finds her way to a refuge that is underground where she is reconnected with someone close to her and meets the women of the Laurel Society. When Mina realizes the ramifications of what the

Asher family is doing to the Convenes and why so many are getting sick she has to decide whether to remain safely inside with them or chance warning her father.  An ending that lets you know that hope seems to be there but fragile threads are broken and Mina, Juda, Grace, Rose and Dekker find themselves in a new world, new place but will they be free?