The Ash Family

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

People going in for the cult story may be disappointed but this is a pretty great if unconventional “coming of age” story and a love letter to the nature in North Carolina. This book reminds me of the longer reads in short story collections more than a novel. I think people will end up disappointed in the way that the story is told if they go in looking for something like Emma cline’s “the girls” but “The ash family” really is a beautiful and descriptive read that maybe just shouldn’t have been marketed as a book about a cult which makes you think of sinister thrillers.
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I was really excited to read this book, I'm so intrigued by cults and how they get people to stay. I could slightly get why Berie would be interested and want to be part of the Ash Family, but she seemed to go back and forth a lot. I wish she would have been a little stronger of a character and then maybe I would have enjoyed the book. The ending really fell flat for me as well. It started getting really intense and then just flat.
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I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. The idea behind it is intriguing, yet the characters didn't grab me. I couldn't find a connection with Harmony, and the other characters didn't have depth. I think this is a great author in the works, and I look forward to get future writings as she grows.
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Ever wonder what happens inside a "commune"? You know those places that are cults, but hate to be referred to as one? This is the perfect story for your inside look into life on a self sustained commune. 

Berie is destined for college, or so her mother seems to mandate. That's not the life that she had envisioned for herself though. She wants a simpler form of life. A life that she will feel good about living and that will give back to the planet she inhabits. So it seems like fate when she meets a young man seemingly offering just what she's looking for. 

What she finds is a "family". A family that she can spend three days with or the rest of her life. All it takes is one simple decision on her part. Leaving behind the world she knows and giving up any and all physical possessions. At first it seems like the best choice for her, but shortly after she's decided to stay doubt begins to creep up around the edges. 

A story that tests the bonds of true family and corrupt family.
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I do love a book about a cult! This one wasn't one of my all-time favorites but it was pretty good. The story of a young woman leaving it all behind to find something new was well written and fairly compelling. I felt like the main character came off as a bit dim though. I get that she was searching and susceptible to this sort of thing but she never seemed to question anything. A bit of a struggle or some more drama would have been welcomed.
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What a creepy story. Creepy because I’m sure it can, and does, happen. Creepy because the danger is always there, just under the surface, never really spoken out loud. Starts off with a bang, Beryl/Harmony being quickly pulled in and leaving everything behind to join the “family” (aka cult). Admittedly, the story gets a little laggy and drawn out towards the middle but picks up as the end nears. A good one!
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This is the kind of book that makes me feel "icky" (because of the story line) so I had to stop on page 62.
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I had a hard time getting into this book. I enjoyed the premise of it and the plot was good. It just seemed to develop slowly and I really didn’t enjoy the characters.
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I have to be honest that I didn't finish this one. I was looking forward to a fascinating cult story, but something didn't click for me. I loved the premise and the characters, but ultimately I found the story unfulfilling and a bit slow. I REALLY wanted to love this one, but in the interest of not putting myself into a reading slump, I had to put it down. I know lots of people who enjoyed this one, so it probably just wasn't the book for me. If you're looking for a book to spend time with and slowly digest, give this a try.
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This book moved a little slowly and some of the characters were underdeveloped. However, the writing style is great and descriptive. Additionally, I liked the protagonist,  I’d recommend this book.
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This is a great exploration into the ramifications of a young person joining a cult and what that looks like for everyone in her life.
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Berie is supposed to be heading to college but gets sidetracked by a cultish commune in the Blue Ridge Mountains outside Asheville. I read this for the setting since I live an hour south of Asheville and have driven around tiny mountain towns with lots of nooks and crannies, even stumbled on what looked like a commune outside Gerton at one point. There are a lot of culty tropes here - the powerful man who breaks the rules others have to follow, people who seem to know secrets that are never revealed, people who disappear, hard labor and hunger used as control. It's a bit of a twist because the core members take environmental "action" that end up being quite more than peaceful protests, creating a somewhat ominous backdrop to Berie/Harmony's understanding of what it is all about.

What I love about this book, and what to me sets it apart from other cult/commune novels, is how the author captures the internal emotional turmoil of someone who is being brainwashed. It's astounding and unnerving and kept me reading to the end.
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I did not find this book to be that entertaining. Berie was strange from the getgo, I didn’t understand her reasoning for leaving her life and moving into this cult. I also didn’t understand why she liked bay so much. This book wasn’t anything special unfortunately.
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Commune or Cult? The Ash Family is More Than Skin Deep

This tension-filled debut novel by Molly Dektar funhouse-mirrors Tara Westover’s 2018 memoir Educated: in it, Westover chronicles her childhood raised in a fundamentalist household until she found the courage to disobey her parents’ wishes and get an education. In The Ash Family, Dektar’s 19-year old main character Berie detours on the way to start her first year of college when talked into joining a family of survivalists living off the grid and under the charismatic leadership of Dice who renames her Harmony. In the memoir, a young women leaves a regimented and physically abusive household to find herself; in the novel, a young women joins a physically demanding and mentally abusive household to do the same.

The occasional bucolic living within and beside the flora and fauna of the North Carolinian countryside and the hard work of sustainable farming can be poetic and even tranquil at times, but there’s also an undeniable risk to life and limb a lot of the time and the Ash family’s dynamic and Dice’s mind games/control makes for an absolutely harrowing read.

Wendy Ward

http://wendyrward.tumblr.com/
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Nineteen year old Beryl, or “Berie ” for short, meets a mysterious man near her home in North Carolina and while promised a new life with him, she actually ends up living in a cultish community instead. 

Anytime a book takes place in my home state of North Carolina, I’m drawn to it right away. However, some things fell a little flat for me in this story. Berie was a likeable enough character, but there wasn’t a big draw to character building otherwise that I was really hoping for. 

I love reading books with cults or I should say I’m curious about them. I loved The Girls and I guess I was looking for a book more along those lines.

*Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for this digital advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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3.5, rounded up for beautiful writing. 

As a debut novel, The Ash Family is well above what one might expect, in terms of the quality of language. I was lured in by the cult premise, which I think will leave others who are likewise looking for a cult-based psychological thriller disappointed. This is not a beach read or a page turner; it is far more of a nuanced, slow burn. This is literary fiction, appealing more to fans of Martha Marcy May Marlene than fans of summer blockbuster-type books.
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I think that I may have been expecting something different so I ended up being disappointed.  I wanted something more exciting/drama filled or with a character that made me feel something.  This book is well written, I just didn't find it very interesting and I would have loved to know more about the Ash Family itself.   Beryl/Harmony's introduction to the cult didn't make sense  to me, and I wish we could have more information about why in the world she was so into Bay.   I also didn't understand what drove Beryl to want to abandon her life, since her past wasn't exactly traumatic.  I had a hard time making this story feel real in my head.  I did like some of the things the book made me think about, like when does faith in someone or something turn into a dangerous obsession or brainwashing?  Overall, I liked the concept, I didn't like any of the characters, it was a little unbelievable and I was just expecting something else all together.
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I was sent a link to access this book through NetGalley, and I downloaded it based on the blurb and that it was a novel about a cult. I previously read “The Girls” by Emma Cline, and I think I had expectations of a similarly enjoyable book.

This one just felt like nothing was happening. The book opens by describing how Beryl neglects her plans for college and follows Bay to the Ash Family commune, where she is christened Harmony and starts making a place for herself among their group. The novel details their way of life, with little catastrophes along the way.

Even though there were small plot lines, I felt like the overall novel was about nothing. Just details of life in the commune and the characters that make up the family. I didn’t get any kind of character development or really any storyline, which is maybe the point because does anyone develop in a commune? I felt like I had to negotiate with myself to finish it. “Just one more chapter.”

The action was slow to nonexistent, and it just overall didn’t work for me.
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I LOVE anything about cults, and The Ash Family did not disappoint. It was also definitely a page turner! Read it in one sitting. Highly recommend.
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A well-written story of a modern-day commune/cult.  But the somewhat annoying characters and not going far enough to describe the truly evil effects of cult mentality makes it fall somewhat short.
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