Dylan's reputation was tarnished when she dated a guy who just used her. She lost her friends and found herself withdrawing all together from life. Them she stumbled upon a corner of the blogosphere inhabited by homeschooled, very devoutly religious girls and she became fascinated by them. She took her fascination one step further by starting a blog and faking an entire name/identity as one of these girls. Dylan/Faith becomes really close to one of the "big name" bloggers in this world, Abigail, and she decides she needs to meet her in person. That's when all of the loose threads of her story fall apart.
Call me paranoid, but this is one of those situations I've worried about happening to me quite a bit -- finding out someone you've grown to trust via the internet isn't who they say they are.
For the most part, I enjoyed the story, though I found the writing and plotting to be really weak in the first quarter of the story. It felt much more like telling, rather than showing, but once Dylan/Faith falls into this online world, those problems become less an issue. Dylan is an interesting and complex character because she's engaging in something that's pretty bothersome (she's a liar!) but she does it because she feels so lonely and confused (so she garners sympathy). When she makes it to Abigail's farm, things aren't easy at all, and she doesn't necessarily find an easy solution to her problems. I found her judgment of the Dean family's way of life a little annoying and close-minded, but I think in the end, she came to realize it didn't matter how they lived their lives, as long as she was living hers the way she needed to.
This book requires suspending belief a bit; never once did Dylan/Faith's parents worry about her leaving home to spend a couple weeks elsewhere -- she'd told them she was attending a program half-way across the state, but they never bothered to ask what kind of program, how much it cost, what she'd be doing, etc. They just let her go. To some extent it makes sense since her parents were so focused on themselves, but I found it hard to buy, especially since they only checked in on her once.
I was a little worried this book would go down the path of making a blanket judgment over these closed religious communities, and while there are certainly snippets here and there of that, it isn't overwhelming and it doesn't detract from developing full characters who live this life (whether they choose to do so or not). Abigail, who Dylan/Faith believes is the perfect, ideal girl, has her own problems and she deals with them like any other teenager would. Just because she's got strong faith doesn't mean she is immune to challenges or to feeling things like any other human being. Same goes with Asher.
The resolution was a little too clean for me, and I felt like in the end, Dylan got out of the situation with Abigail's family a little too easily (despite not having other easy outs while there). I wish the first part of the book had been stronger so I could really understand the hurt and frustration Dylan felt after the breakup with her boyfriend and her best friends. It'd maybe make the final scene more memorable. (view spoiler)[ I am happy, though, that Abigail and Dylan found one another to be good friends, despite the lies between them. Proof that friendship is much more about the emotional/intellectual connections you find with people than the physical ones sometimes. (hide spoiler)]
Ultimately, a fun read, and those who have ever looked for/found community on the internet will appreciate this one a lot. There's a nice message of friendship and life choices without this becoming a Message Book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>