Stephanie's Reviews > The Rapture of Canaan

The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
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's review
Feb 18, 2008

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Read in January, 2005

** spoiler alert ** Good. Mixes fundamentalist elements of The Chrysalids with sacred/bloody imagery of Toni Morrison’s Beloved. A little strange because of certain images of Jesus that are morphed into sexually charged adolescent dreams.

Ninah grows up in a community of extended family that centers around a fundamentalist church led by her Grandpa Herman. After her “prayer partner” James learns that she is carrying his baby he drowns himself rather than face Herman’s cruel punishments.
Ninah is nearly cast out when the community learns she is pregnant out of wedlock. She claims the child is holy, born of God, and is “dunked” for her blasphemy in the same pond James drowned in. During her pregnancy she is placed in isolation where her only consolation is her “Nanna” who speaks frankly about both her distaste for Herman’s law and her uncompromising love for her husband.

When Canaan is born, the community is shocked to see the “sign” of his hands, which are permanently joined in prayer. As the new “mother of God”, Ninah enjoys new freedoms, like cutting her hair and wearing James’s clothes. However, Canaan is given over to another couple who could not have children and who restrict Ninah’s corrupting visits.

Herman has a stroke. Nanna cares for him, though he rarely recognizes her as his wife. He wanders away one day and the community thinks he has been raptured; they’ve been left behind. Then he returns.

Ninah steals away with Canaan as the community erupts in confusion. Story ends with Ninah cutting Canaan’s palms apart, praising his normality.

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