The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was only a child when I decided that the church simply wasn't for me. Even at a young age I recognized that things simply didn't add up; I couldn't reconcile the contradictions that I witnessed around me. I never understood how individuals could cast aspersions and judgments against others one minute and then "sin" so freely the next.
I've long come to terms with the contradictory nature of humans, and when I picked up this book I quite honestly reveled in the idea of a collection of juicy stories exposing the salacious deeds of the supposedly pious. What Deesha Philyaw delivered, however, was so much more than that.
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is a beautiful short story collection that explores what's it like to live life caught between the world's expectations and one's deepest desires. Each story is a raw and honest portrait of the ways each woman navigates a social structure that seeks to impose rigid limitations on their existence. Philyaw does an amazing job of humanizing these women; they are more than their contradictions, more than their sins.
This book is a serious page-turner. Each story complements the next, remaining true to the theme while also maintaining its uniqueness. Though some stories stand out more than the others ("Eula", "Peach Cobbler", "Snowfall", and "When Eddie Levert Comes" were my favorites), every single story succeeded in capturing and holding my attention throughout. This is a solid, strong, enrapturing collection of stories. I can't wait to read more of what Deesha Philyaw has to offer.
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