Monday, February 2, 2015

Leaving Fishers by Margaret Peterson Haddix,1997

Synopsis (click the cover to view the book on Goodreads):
Dorry is unbearably lonely at her new high school until she meets Angela and her circle of friends. She soon discovers they all belong to a religious group, the Fishers of Men. At first, as Dorry becomes involved with the Fishers, she is eager to fit in and flattered by her new friends' attention.

But the Fishers make harsh demands of their members, and Dorry must make greater and greater sacrifices. In demonstrating her devotion, Dorry finds herself compromising her grades, her job, and even her family's love. How much is too much? And where will the cult's demands end? 

(272 pages)
I first read this book many years ago while reading all of Haddix's books, and then I wound up getting it for Christmas from my parents (who took me to a bookstore, let me pick out a bunch of books to buy, then paid for them and hid them until Christmas). I enjoyed rereading this old book - no, I don't think "enjoyed" is the right word. I "liked" getting to read it again, I'll say that. It's not really so much of an "enjoyable" read - it's more of a "meaningful, thought-provoking" read.

First, it's kind of misleading of the synopsis to refer to the Fishers as a cult. Dorry doesn't realize it's a cult throughout the majority of the book; she has been brainwashed into believing she is a member of the true church, carrying out God's mission on Earth. It is fascinating being inside Dorry's mind, watching how the Fishers manipulate Dorry into submission to their customs over the course of several months. Of course, I'm sitting there mentally screaming, "Quit doing what you're told! No, don't feel like a bad Christian because you didn't fast on Thanksgiving!" But even though it seemed obvious to me that the FIshers were a cult (partly because the synopsis refers to it as "the cult"), I could still understand every step of Dorry's journey, could see how the Fishers made her believe she was on the right path to Heaven.

Approaching this book as a Christian, I found it fascinating to see my religion twisted around and skewed: many truths were actually used correctly to draw Dorry in (truths about the love of Jesus and the interdependance of the body of Christ), but as she went deeper into Fishers they told her more and more lies in a way that sounded like truth.

I don't think you need to be a Christian to read this book, because it's still a fascinating look at the phsycology involved in joining a cult. If you're at all interested in cults, then this is the book for you.


  1. I am actually really interested in reading this one myself. I am always intrigued by the idea of cults, especially as people consider religions in general to be cults in themselves in some occasions. Being a Christian myself, I wonder if I will share this viewpoint when I read it!

    As well as that, I love what your parents did for Christmas. They sound awesome ^.^

    1. Yep, my parents are definitely awesome! :) I hope you like FISHERS, let me know if you do wind up reading it! I'd love to hear what you think of it.


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