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The Ash Family

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  729 ratings  ·  236 reviews
When a young woman leaves her family—and the civilized world—to join an off-the-grid community headed by an enigmatic leader, she discovers that belonging comes with a deadly cost, in this lush and searing debut novel.

At nineteen, Berie encounters a seductive and mysterious man at a bus station near her home in North Carolina. Shut off from the people around her, she finds
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published April 9th 2019 by Simon & Schuster
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3.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  729 ratings  ·  236 reviews

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*2.5 "disappointed" Stars

It really hurts me to write this review. It truly does. I honestly hate trashing books. Well, that's not totally true. I love trashing Six of Crows but only because I despise that book and there are plenty of positive reviews. But because this is a debut, I feel really bad giving it a negative review. Also, Simon and Schuster were very generous to give me an ARC and they ask for an honest review. So here it is:

I don't have much experience with cults and covens (I mean no
May 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Ash Family is the story of a cult in North Carolina. Instead of heading to college, Beryl follows a man she meets at a bus station, Bay, deep into the woods, in search of a family and a sense of belonging. She becomes Harmony and is taught many lessons by The Ash Family on their farm, including to leave “the fake world” behind. Dice is the “father” of the family. When newcomers arrive, they are told they can leave in 3 days or stay forever. Those who have attempted to leave after 3 days ofte ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
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 rev ...more
Larry H
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Berie is unsure of what path to follow with her life. She seeks something more meaningful, something more essential, but she hasn't any idea of what that is until she meets enigmatic Bay at a bus station near her home in North Carolina. Bay promises Berie the life she's been imagining, on a farm cut-off from the rest of the world, where they live communally, fully off the grid.

"This was the real world, he explained, and if I stayed I'd get a real-world name to replace my fake-world one. He said
Elyse Walters
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Faith Healing for *Harmony*!!! ( real name was Beryl or Berie for short)
Laughing yet? I wanted to....
but unfortunately- I only laughed when sharing ‘about’ this novel with my husband during reading ‘breaks’.
I’d read Paul a few paragraphs. His questions made me laugh.
Paul asked me “what are the rules about soap?”
“I don’t know, Paul. The ‘rules’ about soap wasn’t explained clearly....only that it was a ‘rule’ to follow along with a list of other rules at the ASH FAMILY FARM”.

I’m 66 years old. I
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
My girl, my girl, don't lie to me
Tell me where did you sleep last night
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun don't ever shine
I would shiver the whole night through

My girl, my girl, where will you go
I'm going where the cold wind blows
In the pines, in the pines
Where the sun don't ever shine
I would shiver the whole night through
- American Folk Song (Leadbelly version)

This book was intriguing, a curiosity. It tells of a young woman's introspection and confusion as she leaves her life behind and
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh I just love cult stories. They don’t even have to be overtly sinister cults, the ones camouflaged as back to nature communes, like the Ash Family, will do also. And so I was really interested in this book and quite enjoyed it, albeit conditionally, enjoinment mixed in with frustration at the naïve idiocy of the protagonist. Then again, naïve idiocy is usually something of a prerequisite for these things, mixed in with misguided well intentions and misplaced optimism. Qualities as inmate to cu ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss
Berie is 19 years old and is very unsure about going to college. It’s her mother’s dream, not hers. When she meets a stranger named Bay at a local bus station, she decides to give his off-the-grid community a chance. They tell her that she can stay three days or forever so she has a little time to decide. She’s always felt a connection with nature and wants to help save the world and thinks that this community, known as “The Ash Family”, is the answer so she decides to stay. She’s given a new na ...more
Jessica Sullivan
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
There’s just something inherently fascinating about cult stories: What makes someone give up their life to join one? How do they become seduced by it despite the red flags? When and how to utopian ideals transform into something dangerous and controlling?

Seeking something more out of life than college and settling down, 19-year-old Berie joins the Ash Family, a community of eco-terrorists living off the grid in the woods of North Carolina.

Drawn to their “essential” lifestyle, she is determined t
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
*3-3.5 stars

Beryl is being pushed by her mother to go to college but instead she wants a deeper connection with the 'real' world, with nature. Her mother takes her to the airport to fly to school but Beryl decides to sneak off on her own instead.

While waiting at the bus station, Beryl is approached by a guy named Bay who lures her into returning with him to an isolated commune in the hills of NC. The life there sounds just like what she's been dreaming of--a deeper connection with the natural w
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
So I guess Dektar was giving is a 'cult 101' class with this story.
I was left feeling a bit *meh* after reading it, I was obviously expecting something else. I thought it was going to be a slightly dark and twisted novel. I found more of a soul search inspirational novel that wasn't quite fully executed.

Putting those pre conceived expectations for fiction occult novels aside, Dektar wrote some interesting characters.
Our little friend, Berie aka Harmony, is 'chosen' to come and live with the Ash
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolute beauty beauty beauty on a sentence level if you love words and writing abt land/nature/animals/emotions/trees/desire/regret/connection/the untouchable/etc. A work of art. I've loved Molly Dektar's writing for years.

(And this book doesn't answer every question it asks and that's okay imo. Life, right?)
Alison Hardtmann
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The Ash Family is a farming commune in the mountains of North Carolina. Berie is a young woman who doesn't know what she wants and has let her mother and her boyfriend tell her what to do until the moment she leaves for university and decides not to go, turning around and taking a bus to Asheville. At the bus stop, she encounters the charismatic Bay, who brings her to the Ash family farm and where she learns to work with farm animals, and is drawn into the close and tightly controlled group led ...more
CloudOfThoughts_Books Keirstin
The Ash Family by author Molly Dektar is a book about doing what makes you happy. What you THINK would make you happy. Full of ambition, the main character quickly finds out that things are not always as they seem. A great book with a great plot!
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for an arc copy of The Ash Family in exchange for an honest review.
Kara Leann
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Molly Dektar has written an incredibly fascinating debut novel! I finished this in one day.! The Ash Family has so many interesting characters with fanatical beliefs. I really loved that this was written from the perspective of Harmony/Berie since she was such a likable and earnest character. Although it was slightly predictable, I was very happy with how things turned out for her. Overall, I will definitely be recommending this one!

Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me a free revie
Basic B's Guide
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you so much @simonbooks for the free book and bringing this book to my attention.

Wow, talk about sneak attack! This book slowly builds with vivid descriptions and tension and then AHA! I was full on pacing my house while reading the last hundred or so pages and shouting curse words (I was alone thank goodness). Now that the adrenaline in my body is back to normal, I can rest easy and breathe.

Ever since reading THE GIRLS I’ve been looking for a cult story that hit all the marks and I really
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read several books about cults and enjoyed them all, but this one was quite different in the haunting way the story unfolds. Berie (aka Harmony in the Ash Family compound) is a nineteen-year-old woman who is supposed to board an airplane for college, when she meets the magnetic Bay at a bus stop and he convinces her to travel with him to their mountain community. Their credo is, "You can stay 3 days or the rest of your life." Sounds appealing, right? But of course we know how these enigmati ...more
Lindsay (nerdybooknurse)
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Ash Family by Molly Dektar follows Beryl (Berie), on her way to college but questioning her entire existence in this life. It's at the bus station on her way to school that she meets Bay. Bay offers her another way of life and Berie, desperately searching for deeper meaning goes with him. She ends up on a farm with the Ash Family. The family farm is completely self-sustainable, a commune where everyone is equal and there are no possessions.

Once at the farm, Berie (now known as Harmony) meets
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was a knock-out. Lyrical but thrilling, and brimming with thoughtful insights into activism and collective living. This one will stick with me a long time.
C. Purtill
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Instead of getting on a plane for college, Berie goes to a commune in the forest with Bay, a charismatic man recruiting for Dice and his "family." Berie was never satisfied with her life, with her mother who wanted her to go to college, with her boyfriend Isaac, an artist with whom she had attempted small anti-establishment efforts.

But Dice and his group truly are anti-establishment. They live on the land, forage for food, scavenge Dumpsters from the "fake world" to bring back to their real wor
Apr 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The moment this book picks up, it's impossible to put down. So many recent books have featured cults, but this is the first one that feels refreshing.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Teenager Berie makes a snap decision to get in a car with a stranger named Bay. Her life will never be the same as she is pulled into the web of a charismatic cult leader who runs an off-the-grid farm. A jarring and thought-provoking story of exploiting vulnerability and highlighting how easily someone can get sucked into mind games and manipulative tactics of a madman. Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Kathryn Ghotbi
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An incredible, haunting, disorienting read. A bolt of lightning in book form. I am more of a non-fiction/ biography type of reader and I rarely find a work of fiction which can keep me engaged, and I read The Ash Family in about 11 hours with sporadic breaks here and there for food and water and sleep. Go get yourself a copy and leave your boring, unessential life behind for the duration of the read.
Joy Clark
This book sounds so good - there's a cult, it's Appalachia, the blurb says something about missing people. Ideally, you should have the trappings of a thriller, but the blurb is misleading. This is not what I would call a thriller, and honestly I was rather bored through half of it. The pace finally picks up a bit at the halfway mark, but it still slows, reving up in fits and starts like an old clunky car. Perhaps I'm being unfair, because there are good parts. The book tells the story of Beryl, ...more
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2-star
DNF @ 20%

A mild debut with promise sprinkled about, but not enough to keep me reading. The story details a girl who joins a cult, but it is not nearly as interesting as it could have been. The writing is a bit choppy and, while the author makes some beautiful observations here and there, it mostly reads as meandering and unfocused.

However, this is definitely a book where I could see the author writing something brilliant after she’s had more practice!
James Beggarly
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful first novel where the young narrator takes you inside a commune that quickly shows itself to be a cult with strict rules and delusional world philosophies. She reveals her moment to moment thoughts, loves and fears so openly that it makes sense that she would stay with these people than to go out and face the real world. A really smart first book.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
via my blog:
"Why would you want to leave, when you’ll have more freedom here than anywhere else?” He said. The family’s father, Bay said, was Dice, and Dice would understand me the way a lightning bolt would understand a rod.

At Nineteen years old Berie doesn’t intend to go to college despite the plane ticket to Richmond, Virginia. That is her mother’s plan, not hers. She leads her mother to believe in it, going so far as to say goodbye at the airport, her m
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
When I began this book, I was fairly certain it would end up as a DNF for me. However, I was interested enough to keep reading and give it a chance. While I did have some issues with the story, I also was intrigued and engaged with what was happening.

A young woman named Beryl is headed to college, but suddenly decides to go off the grid and join this “family” and take a new name, cutting all ties with her former life. I never did understand why Beryl’s life was in such a state that she felt comp
I received an advance review copy through Netgalley. This does not affect my rating or opinions.

2.5 stars.

This was interesting enough that I made it all the way through — though there were multiple moments when I told myself I would just finish one more chapter then DNF and move on — but maybe I've just read too many stories about cults and communes? Because this one had no impact whatsoever; I wasn't invested in any of the characters, or the setup. Beryl/Harmony is naive and lost, with a desire
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: The Ash Family
Author: Molly Dektar
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: April 9, 2019
Review Date: April 4, 2019

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb:
“When a young woman leaves her family—and the civilized world—to join an off-the-grid community headed by an enigmatic leader, she discovers that belonging comes with a deadly cost, in this lush and searing debut novel.”

This is an extraordinary debut novel from a wr
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Molly Dektar is from North Carolina and lives in Brooklyn. The Ash Family is her first novel.
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