I'm honestly surprised this doesn't have higher ratings on Goodreads because it seems like the type of book most people claim that they want to read. THE ASH FAMILY is about a slacker, loser girl named Berie who's afraid of change and doesn't want to go to college; she just wants to hang out with her loser artist boyfriend and enjoy the life of the underachieving freeloader. Then she meets a guy at a bus station who she thinks is hot, and he blows her mind with some cheap, flimflam philosophy that she thinks is ~so wise~. Next thing you know, he's taking her to this commune in the mountains called the Ash Family Farm, where they live off the land and eschew modern medicine and technology. To Berie, it seems like paradise-- until it isn't.
First, major kudos to the author for writing such an unlikable, moronic, weaselly little heroine and having her still be interesting. It's easy to see why Berie gets sucked into the cult; she wants her life to have meaning without any effort; she wants to be special and different without having to achieve anything; she's afraid of what all young people are afraid of-- not amounting to anything, so she ends up making an incredibly foolish choice because she is also naive and vulnerable enough (despite thinking herself worldly) to be predated upon by this group of kooky opportunists.
THE ASH FAMILY has the slow, snowballing effect that ANIMAL FARM had, in that the small choices characters make and the small freedoms they give up end up ballooning into something terrible and transforming the characters into something that's almost unrecognizable from how they started out. Berie starts off as naive and foolish, but by the end of the book she's complicit in a lot of the cult's actions. Anyone who likes novels of suspense or who thinks cults are fascinating or who likes heroines who are morally grey and free to make bad choices at their own peril will enjoy this book.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
4 out of 5 stars