The Project

I bought this copy for myself a few weeks ago, but only had time to read it this week (during lockdown). I felt like I would need time to reflect on what was presented.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Lo Denham is used to being on her own. After her parents died, Lo’s sister, Bea, joined The Unity Project, leaving Lo in the care of their great aunt. Thanks to its extensive charitable work and community outreach, The Unity Project has won the hearts and minds of most in the Upstate New York region, but Lo knows there’s more to the group than meets the eye. She’s spent the last six years of her life trying -and failing-to prove it.  

Content Warnings

Death, abuse, self-harm, trauma, gaslighting, grooming, suicide, violence

Thoughts

It is very intense in both writing and content – as is standard for any Courtney Summers book. It was devastating to read, in the way that the story unfolded. The book alternates between Bea’s point of view in 2013-17 and Lo’s view in 2017-18. Bea was hopeful, naïve and tragic. Lo was angry and driven in her search for the truth.

Her prose flows off the page, invisible when intensity isn’t needed. She doesn’t let you go until it’s over. The relationship between the sisters drives the story. I love this line:

“Having a sister is a promise no one but the two of you can make – and no one but the two of you can break.”

It is there, in Bea’s chapters. There is sufficient hope on both sides of the sisterly relationship for the wounds to heal. However – this is a story about cults, which means there is only one way for it to go. This is where Lev Warren comes in:

“There is no flaw in you.”

It serves as a fine refrain throughout the novel, carrying an air of dread underneath the declaration of perfection. In Christianity, they say that only God is perfect. So, who is Lev to say this?   

I personally enjoyed it; even though it’s quite dark, it doesn’t linger like depression and I love that it makes you think, is she really going there? Yes. My favourite’s still This is Not a Test, followed by Cracked Up to Be, but this one is quite close. 

Goodreads