The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds

“I knew that I was probably having a baby, and that probably it was James’ baby and not Jesus’.”

-Ninah, pg. 155

I am trying to figure out why I love the books I love. The Rapture of Canaan is one of those books that I just love. The theme of listening to the voice within yourself amidst powerful religious teachings that scream from above and outside, the sentences that surprise me, and the descriptions that are uncomfortably honest in this book seep into my body and have stayed there for years. I read this novel when I was young, high school age, and Ninah still feels like a friend; we experienced trauma together.

The fictional Church of Fire and Brimstone and God’s Almighty Baptizing Wind is violent and cruel in its punishments and enticing in its rewards and eternal condemnation. Ninah is a fascinating narrator who punishes herself for her “sins” and questions the paradoxes of strict doctrine that asks its people to be inhuman and a God that is love. There are many parallels between the fictional Ninah and the personal narratives Uneducated and Unfollow. Religion and God, when used to control and terrorize, are devastating weapons that cripple the women that loved them.

But it doesn’t end there. Ninah learns to trust herself, she learns to love herself again.