Cover image for Colony girl
Colony girl
Rayfiel, Thomas, 1958-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1999.
Physical Description:
279 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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In Arhat, Iowa, there are cornfields and there's the Colony. Fifteen-year-old Eve is feeling stymied by both. Boldly she gets her first job as a highway work crew flagman, falls in love with a local teen Adonis and his widowed father, and plots to intervene in her best friend's arranged marriage. Precociously empathetic yet imbued with an impassioned desire to know more of life, Eve tries to save the colony while she struggles to break free of its ominous control.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In the middle of Iowa's cornfields is a small Christian community called the Colony, which is dedicated to bringing the biblical times back to life. The Colony is in an uproar because the leader, Gordon, has isolated himself in his house and refuses to take part in the group's rituals. Fifteen-year-old Eve struggles with her role in the group and her role on the outside as she works on the highway crew for the summer, falls in love with both a father and his son, and develops a taste for Everclear (grain alcohol). Eve is torn between her personal relationship with Gordon and the lure of the "real world." Rayfiel accurately captures the hold religion can have over people's lives while giving fair play to the intelligence and warmth within the cult. Eve is ambivalent about the lifestyle she wants to lead as readers may well be ambivalent about the nature of the Colony, heaven or hell on earth. --Ellie Barta-Moran

Publisher's Weekly Review

Though she attends a public high school, shows up at parties and lands a highway road-crew summer job, everyone knows 15-year-old Eve is a Colony girlÄpart of a Christian religious settlement surrounded by cornfields outside Arhat, Iowa. We meet her drunk and throwing up at a partyÄand falling in love with the host's father, who is trying to help her. In such circumstances, Eve usually reminds people she can't have a ride homeÄ"no cars in the Bible." Life at the Colony follows strict rules, as set by autocratic, charismatic religious leader Gordon ("no last names in the Bible"), but recently Gordon has been in a bit of a slump. He drinks and watches old reruns, and is inspired only when his satellite dish picks up what he's sure is an original I Love Lucy signal, bouncing around in space. Gordon cuts Eve a lot of slack because her mother once was his lover, and Eve has become his spunky young soul mate. Eve takes advantage of her relative freedom, trying very hard to lose her virginity to her hunky boyfriend, Joey, or his father, whichever one she can seduce first. But when Gordon announces that he plans to take one of Eve's teenage friends as his bride, Eve sets off on a campaign to ruin him, aided by information she garners from a businessman who owns the local strip joint. Rayfiel (Split Levels) doesn't give readers a full dose of either satire or coming-of-age story, though there are elements of both here, subtly fused in a smart, funny, oddball story that has much truth and wit, and a deliciously lusty, smart teenage narrator. Though Eve's final escape seems a little abrupt, by the time she leaves, readers will be convinced that the ex-Colony girl has all it takes to survive in the real world. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Neither as entertaining nor as provocative as Rayfiel's first novel, Split-Levels, this work tells the story of a small Christian community in Iowa and of Eve, who wants to escape it. Only 15, Eve spends her time trying not to be a good girl. She works on a road crew, drinks with her buddies, and yearns for sex with both handsome Joey and his fatherÄanything to grow up faster. Meanwhile, the community's founder and cultish leader, Gordon, has begun to act strangely. Utterly uncharismatic and seemingly powerless, he prefers watching reruns and cable to guiding his flock. Despite all of this, there is little tension in this limp novel. The characters are poorly rendered (it is never clear why Eve is unhappy and rebellious or what she hopes to prove) and the town's history confusing. Why did the colonists come here? Why do they stay? A marginal purchase.ÄYvette Weller Olson, City Univ. Lib., Renton, WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.