Revival Season

S. & S.. May 2021. 304p. Tr $26. ISBN 9781982133306.
Miriam Horton’s Papa is Rev. Samuel Horton, the Faith Healer of East Mansfield, TX. Every summer, the Hortons, a Black family, load up their van and bring the word of God to the spiritually starving in Southern cities. People pack into revival tents by the hundreds to witness the Reverend perform miracles on the sick and suffering. At 15 years old, Miriam idolizes and reveres her Papa for the healing work he has been gifted with. At the root of this idolatry is the striking juxtaposition that Papa is abusive to his family behind closed doors, and caused a scandal last summer when he assaulted a pregnant teen. This summer the Horton family is on pins and needles as they begin, hoping that people will have forgotten. The peace in their family depends on it. As the season gets underway, Miriam’s faith and adoration of her dad is tested as she discovers more about her own healing abilities. Ultimately, this is a coming-of-age story, and a meditation on how the core values of Southern Baptist Christianity are in stark contrast to present-day views on gender equality. West’s writing technique is precise and calculated—each word and sentence engaging and marvelous, every character masterfully fleshed out.
VERDICT An impressive, special, haunting novel. Teens interested in literary fiction will be engrossed.

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