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Southernmost

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3.95  ·  Rating details ·  4,665 ratings  ·  767 reviews
In this stunning novel about judgment, courage, heartbreak, and change, author Silas House wrestles with the limits of belief and the infinite ways to love.

In the aftermath of a flood that washes away much of a small Tennessee town, evangelical preacher Asher Sharp offers shelter to two gay men. In doing so, he starts to see his life anew—and risks losing everything: his
...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
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Bibliothekerin I think it’s not an indictment of the field of psychiatry so much as it is of Lydia, who can’t accept her son as he is. She wants to “fix” him, make h…moreI think it’s not an indictment of the field of psychiatry so much as it is of Lydia, who can’t accept her son as he is. She wants to “fix” him, make him tougher, “be a man”. Another one of the stereotypes she believes in. Her world is so narrow, she so narrow-minded, because she fears everything, as Asher notes several times. Perhaps she fears that Justin’s sensitivity means he might turn out to be gay—that’s certainly something she would abhor and fear most of all. But to drug her own son to turn him into someone else? I think that’s abhorrent. I say this with a caveat, however; this situation is not at all like situations where children are depressed or suicidal or have some other form of mental illness, and DO need professional help—which could be counseling alone or with medication.
My son was diagnosed with ADHD at a young age, for example (I paid OOP to have him tested by two professionals outside my HMO because they paid only for testing by an LCSW with a Master’s degree, if you can believe it) and his father and I did worry about starting a 2nd grade child on Ritalin, the only med available at the time. We were willing to have him try it to see how he felt during school and after. When our son came home beaming after the first day of school on R., and was so proud of himself, we knew it was okay. It helped calm him down enough to stay on task and finish a project—“the first time, Mom!” How could we go back after that? We need to trust professionals, but we also need to research those professionals we are entrusting with the care of our children, or ourselves. Credentialing and licensing for mental health professionals can vary widely from state to state—which appalls me, but that’s the way it is. But enough about that.
The only other thing I want to comment on about the book is Lydia telling Justin not to his dad that she takes him to a psychiatrist (or psychologist?). I find that deeply disturbing. First of all, bc it is a red flag for the state of their marriage, either she doesn’t trust Asher, or wants to drive a wedge between him and Justin. It says that lying is okay, that manipulating and controlling others is okay. It says to her child that something is wrong with him—which will surely damage his self-esteem. Why isn’t it okay for a child to be different? Why isn’t it okay for adults to be different, for that matter? What she is teaching her son is fear and doubt, which may turn into self-loathing at some point. Why can’t she just embrace him as the special little boy that he is, and tell him how special he is? Just LOVE him, as his dog does. People joke that Justin is like a little old man because he’s an old soul; he can see into people’s hearts and knows if they’re authentic or not. He’s wise beyond his years bc he already knows at age 9 that his God is different—much bigger and all-loving—than his mother’s God. He sees how poisoned others’ hearts are, warped and withered by fear and prejudice. His God lives in all of nature, in trees, rivers, the ocean and sky, in dogs and other creatures. Fathomless—the “Everything” as he calls it. Justin knows why the bully at school picks on him, because he has been brainwashed by judgmental, hate-filled adults, who have taught the other children as well to hate. He feels sad that the kids don’t know any better, that their hearts are crabbed and withered by hate. He gets impatient sometimes with his father when he sees him being inauthentic or succumbing to fear. Justin is fortunate that he has his granny Zelda to love him as he is, and his father Asher for the same reason. The thing that sets these two apart from Justin’s mother—and most of the other adult congregants—is that they have the humility, courage & integrity to admit when they are wrong, and the honesty to tell Justin, not pretend that just because they are adults, they can make no mistakes. In Asher’s case, he also refuses to treat him as his mother treated him and his brother Luke, with abuse. But Asher has a way to go in becoming a more authentic person; he has only started on his journey. He learns a lot about being authentic from his son, and from his brother Luke.(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
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Larry H
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
4.5 stars.

"'Sometimes we laugh and sometimes we cry and as long as we're alive, we can deal with everything else. You know?'"

Shortly after the Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage, a flood ravages preacher Asher Sharp's small Tennessee town, leaving many in his congregation homeless or with significant property damage. In the wake of the flood, Asher offers shelter to a gay couple, and they begin to visit his church, which roils his congregation to no end, as many believe the flood was caus
...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
A flood in Cumberland Tennessee, an Evangelical preacher, husband, father to a nine year old and the arrival of two homosexual males looking for succor, all merge in a moment in which for Asher things will never be the same. A crisis of faith, a hard look at ones beliefs, one actions and an act of desperation will cause Asher to do the unthinkable. Trying to make up for his actions in the past, while holding tightly to the only thing he now has of value will send this earnest, loving man to the ...more
Elyse  Walters
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is my first Silas House novel. It definitely won’t be my last. It’s very well written - moves quickly - extremely readable.

The opening scene of the massive flood that sweeps the Cumberland Valley was incredibly vivid - sensationally felt - and realistic......
But it’s the story that follows that weighed ‘massive’ on my mind.
The dialogues & relationships- were gut-wrenching believable: raw honest.
Here’s an example of one that made me think about long term committed relationships in general:
...more
Jen
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When a small town is hit with a flood, a preacher questions his own morals when his congregation turns away a young gay couple during this time of need.
Faced with being ostracized and losing his son, he kidnaps his son and begins his search for his own gay brother who was turned away by him and his mother many years ago.
A moving, eloquently written story of a father’s love for his child; redemption and forgiveness.
4.5⭐️

Candi
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Being afraid of somebody who’s different’ll make an awful meanness come over you."

Acceptance and tolerance. Faith and religion. Marriage and parenting. Silas House does a commendable job of touching on all of these issues in his latest novel, which happens to be my first by this author. The book opens with a catastrophic flooding of the Cumberland River in a small Tennessee town. The flood wreaked its havoc on the heels of the legalization of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court, leaving many
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Cheri
4.5 Stars

”The rain had been falling with a pounding meanness, without ceasing for two days, and then the water rose all at once in the middle of the night, a brutal rush so fast Asher thought at first a dam might have broken somewhere upstream. The ground had simply become so saturated it could not hold any more water. All the creeks were conspiring down the ridges until they washed out into the Cumberland. There was no use in anyone going to bed because they all knew what was going to happen
...more
Karen
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5
A small town pastor, named Asher in Tennessee wants to help a gay couple after the flooding of his region and faces prejudices from his church, the town, and his own wife.
He separates from his wife because he realizes the love was never there for him and that she sees things in life different from him.
This is the story of Asher’s own upbringing and relationships with his family, (especially with his older brother who is gay and had left town years ago) a journey to keep his son, and the ques
...more
Diane Barnes
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
You know, this just might be the perfect book for our times. If we could all just be accepting and tolerant of people who choose to follow a different path, if we could all be like 9 year old Justin who thinks God can be found in everything, not just a particular religion, or church, or the bible, think of the kind of world we could have. But, alas, a lot of us grow up to become hardened adults who follow the straight and narrow until it becomes a blueprint for hatred and fear.

Asher Sharp was an
...more
Rebecca
(4.5) In Silas House’s sixth novel, a Tennessee preacher’s family life falls apart when he accepts a gay couple into his church. We go on a long journey in Southernmost: not just a literal road trip from Tennessee to Florida, but also a spiritual passage from judgment to grace. Reconciliation is a major theme, but so is facing up to the consequences of poor decisions. I found the plotting decisions rewarding but also realistic. The pattern of a narrow religious worldview ebbing away to no faith ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
I received this on #netgalley in exchange for my review. A disgraced evangelical preacher finds his religion and community too angry and judgmental. After a divorce, he kidnaps his son and goes to Key West where he hopes to find his estranged brother. These huge transformations happen quickly without much exploration of the cause. Overall, I found the themes, development, characters and the writing to be overly simplistic and sentimental. 2.5⭐️
Alison
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
For the big, deep, spiritual themes it was attempting to examine, it devolved into cliche and superficiality most of the time. Same with the prose itself: beaches and skies and birds and the feeling of God were described in ways I've read a hundred times before. There were writerly ticks that should have been caught in the editing process: all the minor female characters were described as either very overweight or talking in a babyish voice, and every single character randomly called Justin "bud ...more
Connie G
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
After a flood washes away some houses in a rural Tennessee town, the evangelical preacher Asher Sharp offers shelter for the night to two gay men. His wife refuses to let them stay since she has religious prejudices. Asher feels guilty because his family and his community condemned his gay brother, Luke, years ago. Luke left Tennessee and his postcards suggest he's living in Key West.

After Asher preaches about tolerance to his congregation, they vote to remove him as pastor. Although Asher had b
...more
Barbara
May 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Southernmost is a touching story of judgment, self-realization, acceptance and rejection, and forgiveness. Asher, the fundamentalist preacher is about to travel. He travels with the son he has kidnapped from their home in Tennessee; from the flood-ravaged Cumberland Valley in the heart of the bible belt, to the vividly described city of Key West with its omnipresent ocean and history of tolerance. He is also making a journey of self-awareness. What does he believe? Who is he? Has he been fundame ...more
Libby
4.5 stars rounded up - In ‘Southernmost,’ Asher Sharp is in the midst of a transformation; a transformation that will eventually carry him from Tennessee to the southernmost part of the United States, Key West, Florida. A Pentecostal preacher, whose congregation picked him because he didn’t go to seminary, Asher has been following the life that was expected of him. His role as preacher made his mother happy and soothed some of the pain of disappointment she felt in Asher’s older brother Luke’s g ...more
Nancy
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
At university, I took a course in religion with a professor who was ordained and had studied under Karl Barth. He told me that students come into his class with a naive belief and what he taught shook them for they had never viewed their faith community and beliefs from the 'outside'. And, the professor continued, perhaps they will later return to their church and reaffirm it, this time with a deeper kind of faith.

But letting go of what one is taught, the beliefs held by one's community is rare
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Barbara
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Southernmost” Illuminates the reader to the harsh judgments and prejudges of the Deep South. Taking place in Tennessee, an evangelical preacher comes to a crossroad of his faith when his wife and congregation snub a gay couple. Pastor Asher Sharp has an epiphany when his wife harshly sends packing a homeless gay couple, calling them an abomination. Asher wonders when he lost love and tolerance in his fire and brimstone preaching.

This is a well-written story of a man trying to find his true mor
...more
Laurel Schulert
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Raul Bimenyimana
Truthfully I haven't finished this, debated on going on with it despite not enjoying it as I thought I would. One of those books whose arguments I like but just can't go on hoping I'd like the next page better than I liked the last. Bowed out at 100 and odd pages, wish I liked it more than I did, but the writing is a bit too soap-operatic for me.
ALLEN
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
In Silas House's latest novel, SOUTHERNMOST, a cataclysmic natural event (flood on the Cumberland River upstream from Nashville) triggers a cataclysmic social event (a rural Pentecostal minister, Asher, offers two homeless gay men shelter, but his straight-laced wife isn't having any of it; nor when he invites them to his church, is the congregation). The plot develops in an unexpected way that keeps Asher at the heart of it, undergirded by Silas House's rich and evocative prose.

I recommend SOU
...more
Beth Bissmeyer
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really not big on writing reviews, but want to note that this book has some really, beautiful descriptive language that sticks with you. Silas House's characters and the vivid scenes he creates will stay with you well after finishing the book. Plenty of passages I already know I want to go back to. House's descriptions of one character's idea of God resonates deeply with me (and I'm more on the agnostic side of things). If you enjoy a good story and being lost in words, check it out. This was a ...more
Laura
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Thoughts in general KINDNESS. More to come but still processing. Struggling with how the protagonist is perceived by me.
Michael
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book! I very nearly gave it 4 stars instead, only because of the ending. It almost leaves you...what’s the right word, hollowed out and searching for what to fill that void with. Personally, I think I didn’t want to let these characters go. They made my heart ache in all the right ways. Silas House is an amazing writer. The pace is brisk, but he utilizes language in such a clipped manner that you can feel a character’s suffering with the aid of only a single sentence. One of my favorite boo ...more
Nicholas Brown
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another masterpiece by @silashouse <3 <3 <3 such a powerful story of love, transformation, family, and spirituality. Thank you 🙏 “You’ve got to find the Everything wherever you are.” ...more
Charlie Smith
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Complete, unedited thoughts here: https://herewearegoing.wordpress.com/...

Full Disclosure: I bought Southernmost from my beloved local indie, Curious Iguana, because it was blurbed by Garth Greenwell, whose novel, What Belongs To You, remains one of my lifetime favorite books. I did not get a free copy. I do not know the author. I am just a reader devoted to good writing.

Full Disclosure Part 2: To read a novel in which many actions are motivated by anti-LGBTQ bigotry in the current atmosphere wh
...more
Jennifer Lane
Religious Judgment

I think religion can enrich our lives, but I dislike when religion is used to judge others. Yes, there is right and wrong, but who's to say we earthly beings have a right to condemn others who are different from us? This story shows the triumph of keeping faith while letting go of judgment.

Asher is a pastor of a fundamentalist church in Tennessee whose upbringing taught fire-and-brimstone interpretations of the Bible, including the teaching that homosexuality is sinful. When hi
...more
Leslie
Pentecostal preacher Asher Stark's welcome of a gay couple to his church upends his entire life--his job, his faith, his marriage--in this beautifully written piece on the big themes of love, faith and courage. Short chapters make the story move quickly, but characters--and particularly his son Justin, descriptions of Tennessee and Key West, the road trip, and the wrenching position that Asher finds himself in, make this "quiet" novel really compelling. So much to think about here and very timel ...more
Julie
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
A slow-moving gentle novel with some lovely descriptive language. Sadly, I really didn't connect with the characters or feel drawn into the story, which challenges us to treat people with tolerance, especially those that have a different perspective on life. After reading part one, this book lay waiting for me to re-discover it for several weeks. Now that it is due back to the Library, I have skimmed the rest.
Rachel
Aug 06, 2018 added it
My personal "star" rating system:
1 star: Could not finish the book
2 star: Had to force myself to finish the book, did not care for the book, and will not be seeking out this author in the future
3 star: Liked the book, but will not necessarily be seeking out this author in the future
4 star: Really liked the book and would read more of this author, but will not be re-reading this particular book again
5 star: Loved it so much that I will re-read this book in the future, and the author is going onto
...more
Nev
Jul 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
3.5 - This was a nice book but ultimately I don’t think I got much out of it. Southernmost follows Asher, an evangelical preacher in Tennessee who is ousted from his congregation after he offers shelter and tolerance to two gay men. Following a custody battle Asher decides to kidnap his son Justin and flee to Key West. He's there to look for his brother Luke, who Asher shunned years ago after Luke came out.

I don’t know. There wasn’t anything terribly wrong with this book. The writing was good a
...more
Linda
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with Silas House’s writing many years ago. He is foremost a gifted storyteller. In his newest book you will find-

Lyrically beautiful moments. Heart wrenching choices to be made. Life lessons to be pondered. Characters you will not soon forget.

Silas House is a treasure to be sure and so is his newest book Sothernmost ...one not to be missed.
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Silas House is the nationally bestselling author of five novels--Clay's Quilt, 2001; A Parchment of Leaves, 2003; The Coal Tattoo, 2005; Eli the Good, 2009; and Same Sun Here (co-authored with Neela Vaswani) 2012--as well as a book of creative nonfiction--Something's Rising, co-authored with Jason Howard, 2009; and three plays: The Hurting Part (2005), This Is My Heart for You (2012), and In These ...more

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“When they lived in Key West Justin thought the Everything lived in the ocean. Sometimes he thought the ocean was God. But if the Everything lives anywhere, it's in a river. Because the river moves along and touches every little thing on it's way. An he thinks the Everything would be quiet like a river. Event still sometimes. The ocean is always moving and noisy. The sky's always changing. But rivers are always there, even when the water has moved on. You've got to find the Everything wherever you are.” 3 likes
“Forgiveness is the easiest thing in the world, Justin thinks. All you do is just decide to do it, and then it’s done. Instantly you feel better, like pushing aside a quilt that is too heavy for sleeping. Forgetting is the hard part.” 1 likes
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