Being Magdalene is the third book in a series by Fleur Beale. The series is about a family growing up in a religious cult. The first book, I Am Not Esther, introduces us to this world and the characters. The second book, I Am Rebecca takes place several years later and focuses on another character while diving deeper into the religious dos and don’ts.
Finally, Being Magdalene takes place four years after the second. The protagonist, Magdalene, was only a toddler in the first book and is now 12 and very mature for her age. She mourns the departure of her siblings who left and whom she can no longer communicate with due to the rules of the Children of the Faith. Her older brother might be leaving too and she can’t bear another loss.
“Being Magdalene revisits the Pilgrim family and its closed religious community, The Children of the Faith.
Four years have passed since Rebecca ran away. The community simmers with tension and rumours of an approaching split, and life has become terrifying for Rebecca’s remaining siblings as Elder Stephen seizes any chance to take revenge on them. Twelve-year-old Magdalene lives in fear that her strong-willed little sister, Zillah, will be his next target.
The girls have run out of people who can protect them. To Zillah their path is clear but Magdalene is torn. How can she cause more hurt and shame for her parents? But, equally, how can she face a life with no freedom to be herself?
And another question scares her most of all. Without the elders’ suffocating rules that tell her how to live, who would Magdalene be?”Goodreads
This entire series is YA but as a 27-year-old, I still enjoyed this unique world and the Pilgrim family. The protagonist of all three books are strong young women who have very different personalities. Magdalene is very family-oriented and loves her younger sister Zillah and her other siblings. At 12, she feels a lot of responsibility for keeping her family safe. Her stress levels run so high that they present themselves in some health issues.
Despite the hardships, the book has a good and satisfying ending just like the other two books. This wholesome series will have you thinking about what is right and what is wrong. It is a great way to explore religion and extremism as well as family dynamics. There is also some amazing character development throughout the series.
I definitely recommend these quick read books. For once, the people on Goodreads seem to agree, rating this book with a 4.28! You can buy Being Magdalene on Amazon using this link.
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