The Right and the Real

The Right and the Real

5.0 2
by Joelle Anthony

Jamie should have known something was off about the church of the Right & the Real from the start, especially when the Teacher claimed he wasn't just an ordinary spiritual leader but Jesus Christ himself. But she was too taken by Josh, the eldest son of one of the church's disciples, and his all-American good looks. Josh was the most popular boy at school, too, and


Jamie should have known something was off about the church of the Right & the Real from the start, especially when the Teacher claimed he wasn't just an ordinary spiritual leader but Jesus Christ himself. But she was too taken by Josh, the eldest son of one of the church's disciples, and his all-American good looks. Josh was the most popular boy at school, too, and the first boy outside the drama geeks to give Jamie a second look. But getting her dad involved in a cult was not part of the plan when she started dating Josh. Neither was her dad's marriage to the fanatic Mira or getting kicked out or seeing Josh in secret because the church has deemed her persona non grata.

Jamie's life has completely fallen apart. Finding her way back won't be easy, but when her dad gets himself in serious trouble, will Jamie be ready to rescue him, and maybe even forgive him?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Seventeen-year-old Jamie’s principled but spontaneous refusal to join a cultish church her father is marrying into catapults her carefully prescribed life into upheaval, as she is shunned by church and family. Anthony (Restoring Harmony) creates a heroine whose combined sophistication and naïveté result in a determination to hide her sudden abandonment (and consequent homelessness) from her friends and caring adults, in order to avoid involving the law, which she fears might reunite her with her drug-addicted mother. Priorities shift dramatically as Jamie confronts her need to turn down the lead in the spring musical for a paying job, while the stress of duplicitous living eventually takes its toll on her relationships. The complex supporting cast includes Jamie’s vulnerable father; her boyfriend, Josh, a conflicted church member; the creepy Teacher, who demands his followers call him Jesus; and LeVon, a ­parolee who takes Jamie under his wing when she moves into a divey motel. Fast pacing and a strong first-person narrative voice combine to make this coming-of-age story a harrowing page-turner. Ages 12–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (Apr.)
VOYA - Dianna Geers
Jamie feels so lucky to get the attention of the supercute, popular guy at school named Josh—guys do not usually notice her. After Jamie goes to church with Josh, her dad starts going to the church as well. Jamie is so into Josh that she fails to notice the subtle clues about the church and their strong influence over the congregation—as well as her father. By the time she notices, it appears to be too late. When Jamie will not convert to the church, she is kicked out of her home, Josh can no longer be seen with her, and Jamie knows her dad has been brainwashed. What can she do when she is all alone? Tension is a key component of this page-turning book. Jamie's situation gets bleaker and bleaker as she fails many attempts to fix the problem, and Jamie feels that she is to blame. The many conflicts Jamie experiences are complex and have no easy solution. Even though the writing is filled with tension, a few of the major decisions Jamie makes when trying to deal with her abandonment are not consistent with her suburban lifestyle. Those inconsistencies cause a bit of disconnect within the plot at times. Regardless, The Right & the Real would be a good selection for teens who like suspense and characters who overcome extreme, unconventional challenges. Reviewer: Dianna Geers
Children's Literature - Keri Collins Lewis
Jamie has endured plenty of heartache in her seventeen years. Her parents met at Alcoholics Anonymous, so it was not surprising that her mom left when Jamie was in the sixth grade. Jamie is on track for her senior year. She dreams of starring in her school's musical and going to New York to pursue an acting career. Then a cute boy, an obsessed woman, and the Right and the Real Church of Christ send Jamie straight out of stable suburbia to living alone in a dumpy motel. Anthony's gripping novel starts the day Jamie's world begins to unravel, the day her father marries Mira in a group ceremony uniting twenty-three couples in the Right & the Real church. Jamie, who only participates in church activities to spend time with her boyfriend Josh, has to make a choice: sign The Pledge, or be marked a sinner. Unable to believe her father abandon her for manipulative Mira at the instruction of the domineering man called The Teacher, Jamie stays true to her principles and refuses to sign The Pledge. This act of rebellion sets in motion a series of events that test her in unimaginable ways. Forced to live on her own, Jamie makes new friends, realizes the value of old ones, and has to figure out what she is willing to sacrifice to secure what is most important to her. Anthony constantly raises the stakes and pushes her characters, yet Jamie's strong support system means she is rarely left completely alone to handle conflicts. This starkly realistic tale details the mental and emotional manipulation of vulnerable people drawn in by charismatic, yet diabolical cult leaders. Jamie is a sharp, likeable protagonist who gets kicked down a lot but always manages to find a glimmer of hope and with it, the determination to keep going. The story's romance and suspense will appeal to teen girls and may get them to consider serious issues such as healthy dating relationship and addictive personality disorders. The fast-paced, yet deeply emotional plot will keep readers hooked until the last page. Reviewer: Keri Collins Lewis
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Jamie's infatuation with Josh, the hot teenage son of a disciple of the Right & the Real Church of Christ, causes her life to spin out of control. Because of him, Jamie ignores her misgivings about the church and begins attending regularly. She even talks her dad into coming along to services. By the time she realizes that "R & R" is a cover for a fanatical cult, it's too late. Her dad has been sucked into the fold and her refusal to pledge loyalty to the congregation causes a rift between them. She's kicked out of her house, alone and scared. But she's got grit and eventually lands a gig as a barista and finds a dicey motel room to call home. A talented actress who's had a rough childhood, Jamie is a sympathetic character; she's resourceful, but at the same time vulnerable. Readers will cheer her determination to finish high school and continue with her plans for acting school in New York City. Despite parts that strain credulity, the fast-paced and twisting plot will keep readers up late into the night. The added splashes of romance and intrigue make this title a sure crowd-pleaser.—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Joëlle Anthony (, author of Restoring Harmony, lives in British Columbia, Canada.

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Right and the Real 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Nikkayme More than 1 year ago
Joëlle Anthony’s sophomore novel is a harsh and severe look into the life of struggling teen Jamie, in the aftermath of her refusal to join a cult. The Church of the Right & the Real looks okay from the outside. Members are religious and kind and care for one another, but in reality, they worship a man who claims he is the Jesus and they give up their life at the drop of a hat. When Jamie’s dad gets sucked in, brainwashed, marries another member, and kicks Jamie to the curb, her life falls apart. But with her dreams of NYC and more determination and strength than most others her age, she manages. Barely. Jamie is easily one of the strongest female heroines I’ve read. Despite losing everything, she soldiers on and fights to follow her dreams. She suffers, sure, but at one point, she realizes she’s just getting by and that’s not enough. Not to make a life. So she changes that. Readers will be completely taken by Jamie; by her will to move on, but also by her need to do something to save her father. Even though she has so many strengths, Anthony is sure to make her vulnerable, because she is vulnerable. A 17 year old girl, all alone for the first time ever cannot have it easy, and Jamie doesn’t. But that’s where the big, hulking, scary motel neighbor LaVon comes in. He’s incredible and I love him! LaVon and Jamie almost have that parent/child relationship that’s lacking because Jamie’s dad lost his marbles and joined a cult. LaVon's there for Jamie when no one else is. He's not perfect and he's certainly a little terrifying, but he's there. The story deals with quite a few issues, but there’s also this deliciously sweet and perfect build-up to a relationship for Jamie. She has a boyfriend who’s a member of the Right & the Real and there’s clearly a lot of struggle for them because of it, but Jamie sticks to her guns when it’s the hardest. She stands up for her beliefs and she grows so much throughout the book because of it. The new guy Trent also sneaks into the story and brings a lighthearted edge to an otherwise serious plot. He is fabulous in so many ways and I want him for myself. The Right & The Real is one of those books that take you by surprise. You pick it up expecting a good story, but then find yourself unable to put it down. I was reading into the late hours of the night/wee hours of the morning because I had to know how Jamie would survive, if her dad would wake up, whether or not the Right & the Real would win, if she’d dump her somewhat douchey boyfriend, and if she could let the harmless flirting with coffee boy Trent turn into something more. Believe me when I say that the love story aspect plays very little into the plot, but the characters, oh the characters, they are phenomenal. Read it for Jamie. Read it every little thing I said here and for every little thing I had to leave out. You won’t be disappointed.
ChelseaW More than 1 year ago
Joelle Anthony has cemented her place on my shelf as an author I love. Her first book, Restoring Harmony, blew me away with it's originality and great characters. The Right & the Real has done it again. This is a scary book, but not because of anything paranormal. This story is very frightening because it feels so real. Ripped from the headlines. LaVon is such a cool character. I wish I could meet him in real life. He's one of those characters that I like to see so much in YA books - the one that scares you are first, but turns out to be such a great person. And Trent! A total caring and trusting boss. The things Jamie goes through and endures are astounding. Things no teenage girl should ever have to deal with. But she handles it with such strength and grace that I found myself pausing to wonder how I would have reacted if I were in her shoes. There were a few elements in the story that were a little hard to believe, such as Jamie loving acting so much and getting in to a great acting college. For someone so studious, we barely saw her crack open a book. The other thing that was difficult to see happening was how no one else seemed to know what was going on with her, from her teachers to her best of friends. Ultimately, though, this was a book I had trouble putting down. I enjoyed Janie's journey immensely and it should go without saying that I am looking forward to whatever Joelle Anthony has for us next.