The Project, a review by Tanya

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The Project
Courtney Summers

352 pages
Published Feb 2nd, 2021 by Wednesday Books
Amazon | Goodreads

Deep Breath! That’s what I told myself at the end of this book. I put the book down, stared at the wall for a bit and took some very deep breaths. The ease with which this book gets under your skin makes this a must-read recommendation from me!

You know how they say it’s a fine line between love and hate? I think that fine line applies to religions and cults as well.

This book. This book! I thought when I got this book that it was going to be a thriller. I wouldn’t really call it that. It’s more of a mystery with a few thrillerish moments thrown in. But I really don’t want to get stuck in the details of which category it fits in to. I’d rather just focus on how I could not put this book down and had to read it in 24 hours. I had to know! Had to know what was really happening!

The author did such a good job of writing this story that you can’t tell if The Unity Project is a religious following made up of love and light, friends and family or if it is a cult who brainwashes its followers and doesn’t allow them to leave.

Lo’s sister Bea has become a member of The Unity Project after a tragic family loss. Lo does everything she can to find Bea for years, thinking that she is being kept against her will within The Project. Lo begins to write a story about The Project to show that they are a cult. She is granted inside access for interviews with the leader, Lev, as he claims he has nothing to hide and wants to show the world that there is a better way. What she finds is not what she expected.

Following in Lo and Bea’s footsteps, I was sucked into this world of love, family, grief, sadness, forgiveness, acceptance and faith. The feelings of giving yourself to a higher power and having faith in the unseen that are the foundations of religious practices. How do you know if/when it has gone too far? These themes explored in this mystery are gut-wrenching at times. Even now, days later, I’m overwhelmed by the emotions from this story.

The characters jumped off the page for me. Each main character was so well-written, it feels like I have known them for years. At the same time, there were a few holes in the story and focuses on things that didn’t seem that important. These issues caused me to rate the book as a 4. A little more clarity in some situations would have made a couple of places less confusing. Some parts of the life of Lo were skipped over completely and it seems that there could have been a chapter or two spent on the years in between the last time she saw Bea and the time she is working at the paper. Just for continuity. These aren’t huge issues but I feel they would have made for a more well-rounded story.

The way charismatic people can have such profound effects on those that have suffered loss, tragedy or abuse is astounding on the one hand and very, very scary on the other.

I would urge readers of emotion-filled dramas, mysteries and thrillers alike to take grab this book and clear your schedule!

Thank you to #WednesdayBooks and #NetGalley for making this book available for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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