I love Trish Doller's books and I was super excited to read her latest, The Devil You Know. It is a bit different than her previous two novels in that it is a bit of thriller, but it has the same wonderful level of writing and amazing character development that made me love her books in the first place.
Since her mother's death from cancer, Cadie has given her teen years to being the responsible and reliable good girl. She helps at her dad's store, practically raises her younger brother by herself, and does most of the housework. Cadie has sacrificed soccer, her GPA, and her boyfriend for her family. All she can see in her future is more of the same, living the same life while she looks at the map on her wall holding all her dreams of future travels that will never happen. Disgusted with her father and saddened by her lack of choices, all Cadie wants is one weekend to be a teenager and live and do something spontaneous and unpredictable. When she meets two good looking cousins and they offer to take her and one of her friends on a road trip, she jumps at the chance. Noah makes Cadie's entire being come to life, her body buzz with a thousand lights, and she feels connected with him. Matt is also cute and fun to flirt with. As the weekend continues, Cadie begins to feel more unsure about her choices and safety. Then she makes a horrific discovery that turns her fun weekend into a terrifying fight to save her life.
Cadie is my favorite Doller heroine yet. She loves her family and has so many dreams. Her frustration with life is something I really felt and understand. She has sacrificed more than she should have needed to of her life, and even though she is lauded by the adults she knows for this, it doesn't change her increasing bitterness over the situation and anger toward her father. I also loved how opinionated and forceful she was. The decisions that lead Cadie into danger might be considered unwise by some. One always has to be wary of taking off with strangers, but it wasn't like she left with no one knowing where she was going or who she was with. She knew one person coming along and she had her phone. And I completely got why she needed to this because Doller did an amazing job of making me believe it. My heart ached for Cadie's confusion and her terror and the choices she was forced to make as the story unfolded, and I loved how she came out of it all in the end.
I'm going to say very little else about the other characters or details of the plot because I want to keep this as spoiler free as possible. (This kind of kills me because there are some things I'd like to say about both boys, but alas. Just know that I highly approve of how Doller wrote both their characters and how she spun out their stories too.) What I will say is that Dollar does an incredible job at writing a thrilling tale. It is exactly as long as it needs to be, and each part flows perfectly into the next. There are clues perfectly left for the reader to look back at. The atmosphere is so well done as well. The secluded setting of the Florida swamps was perfect for the story and how it progressed. I really felt like I could feel it too: the heat, the rain, the oppressive humidity.
This book, like all Doller's books, has a tremendous heart to it too. It is about community and relationships and how choices, from the smallest to the largest most life changing, make us who we are. The Devil You Know also has a strong feminist core and has a lot of good needed things to say about sexual consent and female empowerment over sexual choices. One thing that bothered me about that was how it presented the idea of sexual purity before marriage from a Christian perspective but that is not something I can blame on Doller. That is the fault of the terrible way it's too often (and incorrectly from a theological stand point) taught by actual Christians. I actually really can't wait until my daughter is old enough to read this so we can talk about even that point too.
This book excels in every area and does so with economy of words and a lot of emotion. I highly recommend it.
Content Heads-Up: some mature language, underage drinking, sexual content