Knowledge is a dangerous commodity in the Home commune, the last beacon of civilization against the fallen outside world. As Suzannah Commons begins to secretly read forbidden books, she jeopardizes her future for the forbidden love of the boy who supplies her new, dangerous habit, Silas Maars, and his family. Will her new-found knowledge be her destruction?
Suzannah is in training with the rest of the unmarried teenage girls in the Handmaiden House and Home’s laundry to become a bride when she accidentally comes upon a naked boy in one of the family quarters, Silas Maars. To see a naked man before marriage is an unforgivable sin in Home and a challenge to her precious status as a virgin, her only aspect of worth. This compromise to her purity would earn her an automatic exile in the Hard Labor Camp, a death sentence until the commune leader, Parson, sentences her to the punishment of serving Silas and his unusual family as a housekeeper.
As she works for the Maars family and is isolated from the rest of the commune’s population, she discovers the frightening, threatening outside world is not as dangerous as she has been led to believe. The Maars family reveals to her that Deacon controls the population of Home by keeping them all ignorant, denying them education and books so he can teach his own twisted, corrupt, self-serving version of religion from the pulpit. As she learns the truth and begins to fall into a star-crossed love with Silas, her fate as a childbride to one of the lecherous Elders or a worker in the hard labor camp is drawing nigh.
Guest Post from Eleni McKnight
Christy’s Cozy Corners: What and who are your inspirations as an author?
I grew up reading. Reading a lot. I am a daughter of a teacher, and she instilled in me a huge love of the written word. And, she’d always threaten to smack my face if I conjugated my verbs incorrectly… on purpose. I used to get my books taken away at recess by the teacher because I didn’t want to play, but read instead.
So naturally, I got into books about things I was interested in. I loved the Anne Shirley books by L.M. Montgomery and Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Other than those, my early loves were contemporary book series. I loved the Baby-Sitters Club by Anne M. Martin and the Fabulous Five by Betsy Haynes. I also loved Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary’s books, too.
Of course, I discovered my love for the macabre in elementary school too, my life-long obsession with ghosts and vampires, and I also really liked reading Zilpha Keatley Snyder’s The Headless Cupid and the Witches of Worm. Naturally, by the time I got to 6th grade, I got into the Fear Street novels by R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike’s novels. Around this time, my English teachers started having me read Edgar Allan Poe, which struck a chord with me.
I was highly influenced by Ann M. Martin, and her views on girlhood shaped my mind: she wrote strong female characters who were going through a lot of the same things I was going through, too. I”m excited that she’s still in touch with her grown-up fans these days, and I meet others who were just as passionate about her books. Back when I was a kid, I wanted to write books like hers, that had value that kids could share with their parents.
High School and College
In high school, I fell off from reading outside of school. But when I got to college, I got to start reading things and they made more sense for me, and I was able to explore things that the authors meant that wasn’t “safe” for us to discuss in high school. I fell in love with British romantic poetry and Shakespeare. I really got into Shakespeare in the theatre, which was a whole new way of experiencing the plays, because I was actually living the plays, so to speak, when I was on stage. For fun, I read Meg Cabot’s books, and I fell in love with the Mediator books!
As an adult, I began reading the books that I hadn’t been offered in high school: Fahrenheit 451, the Scarlet Letter, and Dracula. Can you believe I never read Dracula?! And I went on to read two of my favorite novels of all time: The Handmaid’s Tale and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Books are some of my favorite things to talk about. They open up a new reality, This was part of the reason I wrote Home. So often, we agree to things that aren’t healthy or morally right for ourselves without realizing it. We put ourselves in positions where we have fewer rights, and we can’t understand why anyone would break these rules or moral ideas. But reading helps us to understand their mindsets and opens our own minds, which happens for my heroine. I want books to be available in every home and every school. I love libraries, and I hope that more of them are opened, especially during difficult political times. The love of reading is what will bring our society forward and encourage people to do and be better things
Christy’s Cozy Corners: Thanks so much for sharing! Books are such a huge part of my life, and I love hearing what books authors love too.
About Author Eleni McKnight
Eleni McKnight is a Murfreesboro, Tennessee native and graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She has a degree in Theatre with an emphasis in Literature. This left her with a wild passion for creating costumes and doing make-up in her freetime, along with her intense passion for reading from her childhood. She started writing at age eight when she had read all the Baby-Sitters Club. She took those books on a road trip when she was nine because wanted something new to read. It’s never quite left her over the years.
These days, you can usually find her working backstage or costuming in local community theatres, reading a book, walking/exercising, at a concert, drinking a craft beer with friends, knitting, embroidering, or taking a dance class.