Watch How We Walk- Jennifer LoveGrove- ECW Press- 315 pages- 2014
Emily is often consumed by guilt, it eats her, it keeps her awake, it haunts her in her small apartment, and I can understand her. As someone who was raised in a religious family herself (to some extent) I often joke about the old “Catholic guilt” that can come rushing up, pounding you in the head, forcing you to sit down for dizziness.
But Emily had it much worse than me.
Watch How We Walk is about sisters Emily and Lenora, growing up in a Jehovah’s Witness family. The isolation, the rules, the not talking, the unknowing. The story takes us through the change of Lenora as she lives her life as a teenager and begins to break away from the Jehovah’s community and become “wordly”. A lot of the book is told from 10 year old Emily’s eyes and her not understanding what is happening all around her. This is a subject that I often ponder myself, children, believing in something that they are told, not understanding choices or implications of what their parents tell them to believe and then eventually gaining the consciousness to question it. I was glad to see LoveGrove explore this. It is an inside look at the community of Jehovah’s witnesses, at least in this particular time and place, although a disturbing one.
The books goes back and forth between Emily’s memories of this time as a child and her life as a young adult alone in the city. Both voices are sad and persistent and aching with loneliness.
I thought the book was beautifully written and very fast-paced. I read it quickly and I really enjoyed the story. I have always been interested in religion and seeing inside communities that we might not get to know much about otherwise. I thought the characters of Emily and Lenora were eerie, wonderful and painstakingly real. They are stuck with me.
Emily’s thoughts kept me awake and came to me in a dream.
I liked the book and would recommend it. I just wish we could have heard a little more about Emily as an adult, how she become so separated from her parents. I wanted to know more about how she got to where she was and if she would ever see them again. What happened to Uncle Tyler?
I suppose with any good book, you are left wanting more.