Prayers and Lies
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Prayers and Lies

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  1,234 ratings  ·  163 reviews
When seven-year-old Bethany meets her six-year-old cousin Reana Mae, it's the beginning of a kinship of misfits that saves both from a bone-deep loneliness. Every summer, Bethany and her family leave Indianapolis for West Virginia's Coal River Valley. For Bethany's mother, the trips are a reminder of the coalmines and grinding poverty of her childhood, of a place she'd hop...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 26th 2013 by Kensington (first published February 1st 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  SmithThe Truth About Forever by Sarah DessenJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëLooking for Alaska by John Green
Favorite BOOOKS
7th out of 32 books — 4 voters
Plain Truth by Jodi PicoultThe Truth Book by Joy CastroThe Blindfold's Eyes by Dianna OrtizNecessary Lies by Diane ChamberlainLiving in Process by Anne Wilson Schaef
Truth and Lies
10th out of 15 books — 1 voter

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
An appropriate thought-provoking title for this book about acceptance and forgiveness: a remarkable story of love, friendship, being a teenager, the compelling need to be wanted and needed, lies, secrets, and the dichotomy of pain and joy. Bethany and her cousin Reana Mae draw you in to their lives: growing up in the Coal River valley of West Virginia. When Bethany begins to realize familial dark secrets, her world begins to change and she wrestles with integrity, loyalty, and devotion. Bethany,...more
You know that feeling that you get when you first start reading a book and you quickly fall in love with the main character? You hang on to their every word and feel the same emotions that they are feeling? That's how it was between me and Bethany Wylie. Bethany and her parents and her three sisters spent every summer on the Coal River in West Virginia. Her parents were born and raised there, so they had numerous aunts, uncles and cousins to visit with. Bethany formed a special bond with one of...more
When Bethany meets her cousin Reana Mae, it's the beginning of a friendship that will last forever. Every summer Bethany and her family leave Indianapolis for West Virginia's Coal River Valley. These trips remind Bethany's mother of the coal mines and grinding poverty of her childhood. But because of their relatives, and Bethany's friendship with Reana Mae, they keep coming back. As Bethany grows older she learns that life in this small town isn't as simple as she once thought. The secrets of th...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anne Crotty
"The Bible says the sins of the father are visited upon the sons...But I believe it's the daughters who bear the brunt of most of the family sins. At least that's so in my family" So begins Sherri Wood Emmon's haunting novel about family secrets and salvation.
Bethany and Rena Mae are cousins. They spend every minute of Summer vacation together in the coal country of West Virginia. Bethany enjoys these summers away from her home in Indianapolis. It is during these summers that she gets a bit of...more
Sarah (Workaday Reads)
Bethany and her cousin Reana Mae are soul sisters, inseparable during the summers when Bethany and her family stay at their cottage in West Virginia's Coal River Valley. As they grow up, Bethany realizes that not everything is as perfect as it seems, and every family has dark secrets. As these secrets come to light, Bethany's world is rocked, and she must decide how to react towards those she loves most.

This was a haunting story that I couldn't put down. The secrets and events that happen within...more
Jul 30, 2011 Bon added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Loved this first book of Sherri wood Emmons.
Bethany, one of four sisters is best friends with her wrong side of the tracks only child Reana Mae. The two are inseparable as children with Bethany's family spends summers at the cottage. Reana is more of a sister to her than Tracey her next oldest sister. Tracey is just mean and nasty and uses every opportunity to torment her sister and even more is Reana her target.
One summer, when Reana is 11, she is never to be found and Bethany finds that Rean...more
This book was wonderfully written, and really had me in an emotional tirade about the characters: I was rooting for some, disgusted at some, and by the end, I came to understand.

I had two problems with this book, and that's why I down rated it:
1) There were too many names thrown at me right in the beginning, so many that I had to go back and reread the first few chapters after I was some way into the novel, so I could get everything straight in my head. Same with at the end, when everything wa...more
Dec 26, 2013 Lisa rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: anyone, 16 or above
Recommended to Lisa by: Lucky find
I stumbled upon this book by accident at my local library. Honestly what prompted me to check it out was that it was set mostly in West Virginia. I'm a sucker for anything nonfiction OR fiction that takes place in my state. What was the most unusual part about the find is that my library has a section devoted to anything that takes place in WV, both historically and fictionally. I found this on the opposite side of the library in the regular fiction section. I read the 'blurb' and saw that it wa...more
Ann Marie
This book was wonderful...four stars because --- there were just to many relatives in the first couple chapters and again in the last couple chapters...I know they were part of the story, I just hate having to read family trees...I can never follow them and I always have to go back and re-read...but this was a wonderful story and I would recommend it to kinda feels like "Me & Emma" but there is so much more to this is soft and sweet while hard and harsh...if you liked "Me &...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pat Wogan
I started reading this book in the morning and couldn't put it down! Emmons is a great story teller. She made even her minor characters real. I fini,shed the book in one day because I had to know how it ended! Don't start this book on a day you have lots of chores to do. Well written, good story, believable characters, and well-described settings. I give it five stars
Great summer read. Everyone in this family is so screwed up. It is not a matter of if everything is going to hit the fan, it is more a matter of when. This story reminded me of why I don't have the urge to look that close at my family tree.
Pamela Browning
As a native West Virginian, I was very anxious to read this book. After completion, I have mixed emotions. I became pulled in by the story-line and loved the sweet-natured narrator. I thought Ms. Emmons was quite proficient in character development. She had me gritting my teeth while reading about Tracy's hatefulness and feeling as though my heart would break every time Reana Mae was mistreated...which unfortunately was often. The characters' Southern West Virginia dialect was spot-on.

The conten...more
Diane Macaluso
It took me awhile to figure out all the aunts, grandmas, uncles, cousins, etc., but finally just let the story pull me along! Didn't want to put it down!
Great page-turning novel about family secrets and innocence lost. Loved it.

Melinda Lang
I did not like The Sometimes Daughter so I wasn't sure if Prayers and Lies would be any better. It was a better read but it lacked the substance/fabric/core that Emmons' other novel did. I had a hard time getting past the heavy West Virginia accent in the dialogue and found it very distracting, especially when key information was being conveyed by the characters. And too many characters had names so similar it was hard to remember who was who without looking back. The story itself had great pote...more

Bethany, a seven year old girl from Indianapolis begins to spend her summers with her parents, sisters, and extended family at the Coal River in West Virginia. While the life here is much different from what she is used to, she quickly feels both at peace and at home here, and forms a tight, sisterly bond with her six year old cousin, Reana Mae. There is a simpleness here on the River that Bethy finds comforting. Though they may not have the "riches" that Bethy has at home, they have the "riches...more
This was another great book by Sherri Wood Emmons. A real picture of childhood in a small town in the mountains and the development of sisters/cousins/family relationships. I enjoyed this book and could understand the feeling that Bethany was somewhere where she felt as though she didn't fit in. Her feeling of feeling more comfortable where the family vacationed in the small town in West Virginia almost mirrors my own feelings. I felt more comfortable as a child in my dad's hometown in North Car...more
Tamme Webster Johnson
The prologue to this coming-of-age novel forewarns: The Bible says the sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons...But I believe it's the daughters who bear the brunt of most family sins. At least that's so in my family." And so sets the scene for one family secrets, as told through the eyes of the youngest daughter.

Bethany who lives in Indiana, spends the summers with family at their cottage in West Virginia's Coal River Valley. Long, lazy afternoons were spent on the river, swimming and hi...more
Kristen Doyle
As shared on my blog,

Prayers and Lies by Sherri Wood Emmons was a book I picked up while on vacation in Texas. I was pulled in by the cover image and that little girls piercing eyes, and then pulled the trigger on buying the book by reading the back cover description. I love discovering new authors and since this is a first book for Sherri Wood Emmons I was anxious to see how it was.

I found myself completely engrossed in Prayers and Lies from the very beginning. Bethanny and...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
McGuffy Morris
This is a very appropriate, thought-provoking title for this book. Sherri Wood Emmons is a new voice in fiction, and one well-worth listening to.

Most families are held together with ties that bind, and often are prayers and lies. Such is the family of this narrator, Bethany and her cousin Reana Mae.

Every summer, Bethany’s family goes home to the Coal River Valley of West Virginia. She and her cousin Reana Mae, both “misfits” develop a “sisterhood”. As they grow through adolescence, the shocking...more
I gobbled up this story like a bag of M&Ms. Bethany, the narrator, is the sheltered youngest daughter of two loving parents, and by the end of the story, we know beyond the shadow of a doubt that all the love in the world can't protect our children from the ugly realities of life- but it can give them the strength to make it through.

Bethany revels in her family's yearly trips to West Virginia, where most of her relatives live a hardscrabble life along the banks of Coal River. She and her co...more
Wendy Hall
For an author's first novel, the character development in this story was amazing. I really felt like I got to know the characters, whether I liked them or not. The book unravels a family's twisted secrets one layer at a time. This backwoods West Virginia family plays into stereotypes of such a family, but the story is believable - and heart-breakingly sad - as you consider how many people have lived through the types of trauma the individuals in this family have experienced. The horrors of child...more
Picked this up based off the cover, and for once the cover doesn't lie. 4.5 stars for a first novel that sensitively and thoughtfully explores a complex of themes from family secrets and inherited mental illness, to faith--and you guessed it, incest--all set against a rural 1960s West Virginia backdrop. Be aware that while it might be tempting to write this off as a "of course that happens in West Virginia [or wherever]" story--don't.

The author does not bedazzle with language per se, but rather...more
A gripping and thought-provoking debut novel dipping into the complex extended family life in Appalachia. The narrator, Bethany, portrays an innocent voice uncovering dark family secrets through her summers spent in Coal Valley.

Two morals I learned from this:
1) Family sticks together and helps each other through thick and thin.
2) You can not escape your past. Do not hide or cover the truth as it creates confusion, especially in your own children.

I did enjoy the conclusion of the novel, I just f...more
This is a book of the love of a family. The unity of this family was amazing. The unconditional love. No matter what, they took care of each other, supported each other, loved each other. They may not have liked each other at times, but always loved one another. All families have secrets. This book makes you stop and think do those secrets help or only hurt those you are trying to protect. This book makes you rethink a lot of things. Would I have enough faith to make it through the things this f...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • What Happened to My Sister
  • Promises to Keep
  • The Good Sister
  • All the Numbers
  • Calling Home
  • Good Graces
  • A Life of Bright Ideas
  • When We Were Friends
  • The Hungry Season
  • All Fall Down
  • Hidden Wives
  • Best Kept Secret
  • Close Your Eyes
  • One Good Friend Deserves Another
  • A Sister's Gift
  • Family History
  • What Happened to Hannah
  • Keeper and Kid: A Novel
Sherri Wood Emmons is a freelance writer and editor. Prayers and Lies is her first work of fiction. She is a graduate of Earlham College and the University of Denver Publishing Institute. A mother of three, she lives in Indiana with her husband, two fat beagles, and four spoiled cats.
More about Sherri Wood Emmons...
The Sometimes Daughter The Weight of Small Things The Seventh Mother

Share This Book

“The Bible says that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons to the seventh generation. But I believe it's the daughters who bear the brunt of most family sins. At least that's so in my family.” 3 likes
More quotes…