April 6, 2018

Looking Back - The Rapture of Canaan

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
1995 Berkley Books
Finished on September 23, 1997
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

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.

My Original Notes (1997):

Very good! I really enjoyed this novel. I was furious with the religious fanaticism and the cruel punishments, but what an interesting story. I particularly liked the characters of Ninah and Nana. Grandpa was so easy to hate. I'd like to read her other two books now.

My Current Thoughts:

I only have a slight recollection of this book, but I do know that I went on to read A Gracious Plenty by Reynolds. She's written others, but I haven't read anything else by her.


  1. With some of these, it's hard to remember if I actually read them or just heard about them. I need to do some research in my reading logs. I think I read this one - maybe.

    1. Kay, I know exactly what you mean. I also forget if I've read a book or just started it. I'm really glad I kept all these journals, but wish I wrote a little more about each book.

  2. I'm positive I read this book with a book group around the time it came out. Unfortunately I don't remember anything about it although after reading your blurb I have no idea how that's possible! I'm almost tempted to look for this and re-read as it sounds like a great story!

    1. Iliana, I think I read this with a book group (online), too. I'm not sure I'd read it again, but do let me know if you do!


I may not answer your comments in a timely fashion, but I always answer. Check back soon!