Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Rapture Of Canaan - Sheri Reynolds

Also reviewed by Heather

Summary:At the Church of Fire and Brimstone and God's Almighty Baptizing Wind, Grandpa Herman makes the rules for everyone, and everyone obeys, or else. But even in this isolated community where it seems nearly everything is forbidden, temptation occasionally touches the congregation . . . and for Ninah, temptation comes in the form of her prayer partner, James. Ninah is determined not to sin with James---so determined that she's willing to fill her shoes with shells to keep her mind on Jesus' pain.
Nevertheless, she soon finds herself pregnant. She fears the wrath of Grandpa Herman, the church members, and God Himself. But the events that follow show Ninah that God's was are more mysterious than even Grandpa Herman can understand... (photo from Barnes and Noble. Summary from back of novel)

My Review: Picked for Oprah book club in April of 1997, The Rapture of Canaan is a well written, well told and well liked story of religion, family, love, and the coming of age of one very tenacious girl.

Ninah is only 14 when she feels sexual stirrings for her prayer partner, James. He is a young boy just coming into manhood, and he just happens to be Ninah's nephew, older by one year.
Pregnant and alone with her thoughts of doubt and disbelief, Ninah turns to her Nanna and finds an unexpected camaraderie and a deep bond that seems to hold them up as everything else comes crashing down.

Condemned for fornication, Ninah waits the birth of her child with mixed feelings, part apprehension, part undeniable love. She knows that this child in her womb will rock the tight knit church community to it's core, leaving no member untouched.

After finishing this novel I had to sit and think. That is truly exceptional to me, when a book makes you think, makes you question yourself and the way you think. That is not to say that I agree with much of anything in this book, but it did open my eyes to the young kids in communities such as Fire and Brimstone, that must live and breathe the teachings, only because it is the only thing they have ever known.

I loved the main character, and in a way I felt myself understanding her fears and longings. She is scared of Grandpa Herman, yet longs to voice her opinion. She is confused by rules in the church(for instance: lying in a grave for a night as punishment for drinking alcohol), and why Grandpa seems to have supreme power over all of the congregation.

There are to many twist and turns in this novel that deserve attention, I cannot mention them all. It is a good read with great potential for a book club like discussion. However, I do not think that the content is going to please everyone, it made my stomach lurch many times and I am sure that although I liked it enough, I will not read it again. I give it the rating I do only because it is thought provoking and extremely well written.

My Rating: 4 stars

If I had to sum up the book in one phrase: A great addition to Reynolds collection, though not her best work.

4 comments:

Sweet Em said...

Books that have disagreeable content sure do make a book club more lively! I'm a big fan of books that make you sit and think - I'm definitely intrigued by your review.

Which of Reynolds books would you say is the best?

Kim said...

I really liked Bitteroot Landing. It was the same sort of "thinking" book. You should definately try them both!

Heather said...

Nice review, Kim. I am excited to read this one.

Heather said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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