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The Rapture of Canaan [Paperback]

Sheri Reynolds
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 17 2002 Oprah's Book Club
At the Church of Fire and Brimstone and Gods Almighty Baptizing Wind, Grandpa Herman makes the rules for everyone, and everyone obeys, or else. Try as she might, Ninah hasn't succeeded in resisting temptation her prayer partner, James and finds herself pregnant. She fears the wrath of Grandpa Herman, the congregation and of God Himself. But the events that follow show Ninah that Gods ways are more mysterious than even Grandpa Herman understands.

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Oprah Book Club® Selection, April 1997: Members of the Church of Fire and Brimstone and God's Almighty Baptizing Wind spend their days and nights serving the Lord and waiting for the Rapture--that moment just before the Second Coming of Christ when the saved will be lifted bodily to heaven and the damned will be left behind to face the thousand years of tribulation on earth. The tribulation, according to Grandpa Herman, founder of Fire and Brimstone, will be an ugly time: "He said that we'd run out of food. That big bugs would chase us around and sting us with their tails . . . He said we'd turn on the faucet in the bathroom and find only blood running out . . . He said evil multitudes would come unto us and cut off our limbs, and that we wouldn't die . . . And then he'd say, 'But you don't have to be left behind. You can go straight to Heaven with all of God's special children if you'll only open your hearts to Jesus . . .'"

Such talk of damnation weighs heavy on the mind of Ninah Huff, the 15-year-old narrator of Sheri Reynolds's second novel, The Rapture of Canaan. To distract her from sinful thoughts about her prayer partner James, Ninah puts pecan shells in her shoes and nettles in her bed. But concentrating on the Passion of Jesus cannot, in the end, deter Ninah and James from their passion for each other, and the consequences prove both tragic and transforming for the entire community.

The Rapture of Canaan is a book about miracles, and in writing it, Reynolds has performed something of a miracle herself. Although the church's beliefs and practices may seem extreme (sleeping in an open grave, mortifying the flesh with barbed wire), its members are complex and profoundly sympathetic as they wrestle with the contradictions of Fire and Brimstone's theology, the temptations of the outside world, and the frailties of the human heart.

From Publishers Weekly

In this gritty portrait of a young girl who battles repression in a rural Southern religious community, Reynolds (Bitterroot Landing) once again showcases a compelling narrative voice that's simultaneously harsh and lyrical. The narrator is Ninah Huff, granddaughter of Herman Langston, the founder of a Pentecostal sect in rural South Carolina. Herman is a strict disciplinarian, to say the least: he forces one congregant found guilty of drinking to sleep in an open grave. Because of the Pentecostal group's rigid attitudes, Ninah and her peers are frequently scorned and mocked at school. But her real problems start when she becomes pregnant by her prayer partner. Ninah's subsequent rebellion and the tragic aftermath of her tryst threaten to tear the community apart, particularly when the despotic Herman interprets an ordinary, curable birth defect in her infant son, Canaan, as a sign that she has given birth to the new messiah. While many of the issues Reynolds deals with are coming-of-age staples-teen rebellion; the standoff between adolescent expression and religious repression; the morality of the individual vs. the morality of the group-her gift for characterization ultimately transcends the material as Ninah's strength and resilience enable her to move beyond benighted religiosity toward a true and lasting faith. Literary Guild featured alternate selection.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So Beautiful!!! May 9 2004
By L. Hall
This was a good book. I read the paperback version, and I read it rather quickly in comparison to other books. It's
a story of what can happen when you let religion take over your life.
The Church of Fire and Brimstone and God's Almighty
Baptizing Wind is a very strict structure. Punishments range from lying on thorns to sleeping in graves. Our heroine,Ninah
gets a prayer partner, and when they get a little too close,
watch out what happens!
The words just seem to flow one after another,
making this a very easy to read book. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes a good read. This reviewer gives
The Rapture of Canaan a 4.5:)
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4.0 out of 5 stars A rapturous read Dec 18 2003
Don't let the fact this book was selected by Oprah's Book Club throw you--"The Rapture of Canaan" is not flash-in-the-pan, trendy lit but rather an evocative examination of religious devotion and the power of forgiveness.
Ninah, the 15-year-old protagonist, is a member of a radical religious sect, but finds it difficult to reconcile her sinful thoughts--particularly about her prayer partner James--with her religion's insistence on purity in preparation for the Second Coming. Despite her attempts to banish such thoughts from her mind, she and James consummate their love, and disaster ensues. Her black-and-white world is upended, and she stands on the brink of despair. But Ninah perseveres, learning, as well as teaching, a powerful lesson of redemption.
Though the novel is religious in subject and theme, its appeal spans both sacred and profane tastes. The writing is fast-paced, and the characters just eccentric enough to be completely believable. Ultimately, Reynolds shows that miracles can be found in the most mundane, secular places and that, as Hawthorne says, some things, however carnal and worldly, have a consecration of their own.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This book is everything all in one Dec 8 2003
Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
320 Pages
Published by Putnam Publishing Group, reprint 1997
Paperback and Hardcover
This book is a tale of awakening for the 15 year old narrator Ninah Huff. She lives in a strictly religious community, The Church of Fire and Brimstone and God's Almighty Baptizing Wind, founded by her very strict grandfather, Grandpa Herman. In Ninah's community, any type of pleasure or self indulgence is harshly punished by varying means, such as sleeping in a bed full of nettles, a dunking in the freezing cold pond, to sleeping in an open grave or being locked in a cellar for forty days with no contact to the outside world.
Ninah, as well as everyone else in the community, has led pretty sheltered lives, having very little contact with others not part of their community. Grandpa Herman insists that everyone in the outside world not part of their community was destined for eternal damnation when the tribulation comes. Ninah catches mere glimpses of how life can be outside of the community, and inevitably begins to make friends with these people, and is forced to question Grandpa Herman's teachings when she refuses to believe that her newfound friends are headed to Hell.
Ninah's confusion does not end with those of the outside world; soon she begins to question many other beliefs within her community.
Ninah tries to repent, and takes on a prayer partner, James, but soon enough, Ninah and James, at the peak of adolescence, fall in love, and find it hard to resist their feelings for one another. Soon, Ninah, more confused than ever, finds herself pregnant, and is weighing the wages of her sins. Her attempt to tell James ends disastrously, and she finds herself facing this predicament alone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Whee Jesus! Oct. 30 2003
This is the story of Ninah Huff, the granddaughter of the founder of the Church of Fire and Brimstone and God's Almighty Baptizing Wind. Say that three times fast. I dare ya! Basically, the people of the congregation spend their time striving to do the "Lord's good" while denying themselves earthly pleasures (No TV, very little free time, you get the picture) because they don't want to be stuck on earth when the good Lord comes back. To avoid earthly sins, the members of the church are known to inflict pain upon themselves such as sleeping on nettles or walking on pecan shells.
The story is also told from Ninah's POV. She's a young girl struggling with religion and life in general. She questions what she is being taught in her community, but at the same time, she feels ashamed and guilty of the changes going through her -- particularly her attraction to a boy named James. Despite, Ninah and James's efforts to avoid temptation and sin, the two come together in the biblical sense, and the outcome tears their little community apart.
I thought this was a very beautiful story following the trials and tribulations of not only a teenager growing up under such strict beliefs but the desires of the heart and flesh, the questioning of religious beliefs. Ninah makes such a transition in this story. She goes from a timid teenage girl to a young woman who knows her heart and believes that God's love comes from more than just pain. She finds strength when so many obstacles stood in her way. She forces a community to change, to face it's hypocrisy, and above all, Ninah finds a sense of self.
I also loved the characters in this book. They were so beautifully drawn out. You could imagine them vividly. Everyone from Ninah to Corinthian, the woman who the community considers a backsliding whore.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read
Loved this book keep you interested in the story and you will be surprise by the ending. This is a perfect book for a long weekend.
Published 8 months ago by Nathalie Andree Radford
5.0 out of 5 stars Neat-o!
I really enjoyed this book. It was very descriptive, and tragic, with out being overwrought or cheesy. Read more
Published on May 17 2004 by Amy
1.0 out of 5 stars nasty, just nasty
if it was the author's intent to disgust me, then she was successful. i put off reading this book, and now i know why. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds is definitely a great read. It's about a 12 year old girl named Ninah who grows up in a strictly religious family, falls in love with her... Read more
Published on Jan. 20 2004 by Brittany
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting story
This book is pretty good! I was not interested in it after I found out it was about a "cult" but it was not what I thought. Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2004 by Rachel Dawson
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for everyone!
This is a story about a girl who lives in a religious community and her sturggles with sin and becoming pregnant and her faith and wanting to please god. Read more
Published on Nov. 24 2003 by Ashley Young
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book I Couldn't Put Down!!
The Rapture of Canaan was a book I simply couldn't put down! The story is about a young girl whose family has strict religious beliefs and somewhat unusual or strange ways. Read more
Published on July 17 2003 by Ginger
5.0 out of 5 stars Strangely captivating...
This book was unlike anything I have read before and while I wasn't sure at first if I would like it, I got sucked into the story and weird plot. Read more
Published on May 20 2003 by "cornell727"
4.0 out of 5 stars Rapture of Canaan
Ninah is a 15 year old girl who lives in an isolated southern church community. Her Grandpa Herman is the reverand at the Church at Fire and Brimestone. Read more
Published on May 14 2003 by Samantha
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