House Arrest

Red Hen. Feb. 2011. c.212p. ISBN 9781597094993. $20.95. F
When visiting nurse Emily Klein learns her next assignment will be monitoring the pregnancy of a cult member whose first child froze to death during a sacred ritual, her immediate instinct is to ask whether someone else can do it. Then she meets 21-year-old Pippa Glenning, whose spiky yellow hair frames a round face that is both strong and vulnerable. Meeting at the Family of Isis's tidy house in a rundown neighborhood, Emily becomes intrigued with Pippa and her story—a runaway saved from street life by a loving group led by a charismatic male leader, Tian. Tian is now in jail awaiting trial, while Pippa endures house arrest. Soon Pippa asks Emily to make a decision that will risk her nursing career. Emily is forced to come to terms with her past, particularly in regard to her parents, who made a similarly difficult decision years ago.
VERDICT Although this first novel has awkward moments and telegraphs its ending, fans of Jodi Picoult's ethics-heavy suspense may find it a suitable readalike.
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