I think I'm going to start a new feature on my little blog: the best book I've read each month! This way, I can keep a list of the books I've read and I can have more book reviews on my blog. Wahoo! Gotta love book reviews, right?
So I read four books in November:
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Matched by Ally Condie
I absolutely adored three of these books, which made it really hard for me to pick a winner. (Sorry, MATCHED, but I just couldn't get into you.) If push came to shove though, I'd probably choose THE RAPTURE OF CANAAN as the best of the bunch due to its stunning prose, its heartbreaking plot twists, and its well-drawn characters that felt so real I truly believe they exist in rural South Carolina.
Here is a quick blurb about this novel, which was an Oprah Book Club pick in 1997:
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 can't resist her prayer partner, James, and finds herself pregnant. She fears the wrath of Grandpa Herman, the congregation and God Himself. But the events that follow show Ninah that God's ways are more mysterious than even Grandpa Herman understands.
I was truly dazzled by the writing in this book. Author Sheri Reynolds proves herself not only as a great storyteller but as a masterful artist. There were so many passages in this novel that simply blew me away with their lovely, lovely descriptions. For instance, here is the first paragraph of the work:
I've spent a lot of time weaving, but you'd never know it by my hands. With threads, hair, and twisted fabric, I weave in fragments of myself, bits of other people. I weave in lies, and I weave in love, and in the end, it's hard to know if one keeps me warmer than the other.
Another thing I loved about this book is how the characters all felt so real to me. It would have been easy for Reynolds to demonize Grandpa Herman as this domineering, arrogant, hardliner preacher who ruled his church with an iron fist. Yet, she doesn't that. Grandpa Herman may have some prideful traits, but he can also be kind, loving, and vulnerable. The same goes with the rest of the characters: they are all developed so three-dimensionally that I wanted to reach into the book and give them hugs or slap them across the face.
All in all, I would highly recommend THE RAPTURE OF CANAAN. It has already become one of the favorite novels of all time.