Grief is all encompassing and is unique to the individual experiencing it. When Ruby loses her younger brother Anton she finds herself living life without colour. She cleverly moves through her daily routine saying the right things to avoid having to share her feelings and emotions because the truth is there is nothing to share – she feels nothing.
Ruby’s mother is also deeply suffering which enables Ruby to coast along, feeling nothing. Even her best friend allows Ruby to distance herself in her grey little world where she only goes through the motions rather than truly living. Everything changes when Ruby meets Fox, a free-spirited, naïve and warm boy who makes Ruby feel safe and seems to see straight through the facade she is putting up. Spending lots of time together their friendship blossoms and Ruby feels bright and hopeful again. After a short few weeks, the time comes for Fox to go back home to ‘The Institute’ and invites Ruby to join him.
The Institute is home to many people, all with their own reasons for joining this new family. Ruby begins her stay with lots of questions, she is confused by some of their values and way of life but her suspicions and intuition for alarm is dulled by her strong desire to be with Fox.
As a reader, I felt a range of emotions. Relief and excitement when Ruby meets Fox and finds joy again. Happiness, as beauty begin to re-enter Ruby’s world, and finally fear and despair as you, the reader, witness the brainwashing techniques of cult leader – Zosimon, or Daddy as he prefers his family call him. The ultimate goal under instruction of Zosimon is to live a sublime life, ridding oneself of all toxic elements. Your name is changed, your diet restricted and if you do not easily fall into the role of a sublimate then you are starved, beaten and broken down all to rid your body of its toxic urges.
This book is eye-opening, shocking and beautifully written – as the story progress it becomes harder and harder to put down.