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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

I am not usually a fan of short stories. I prefer a long juicy novel (with sequels!) that I can sink my literary teeth into. But these stories about African American women were SO good, and so engaging; I'm glad I kept an open mind and dove in. Each story is filled with passion and truth, and the characters were amazingly well developed (there were usually only 2 or 3 which made it easy to connect to them, and some of the stories revisited characters). Throughout the book we learn about the painful histories, the day-today difficulties, and the sexual longings and desires of these characters, along with their conflicts with their church community. I think my favorite might have been, "How To Make Love To A Physicist," which tells the story of a female middle school art teacher who meets a male physicist at a conference, and proceeds to very slowly regain her trust in men, and to open herself to the idea of falling in love: "And as your body begins to feel like a home, your courage grows. It grows bigger than your mother’s chastisement in the parking lot after service the first time you go to church unbound. She asks why you aren’t wearing a girdle, why you aren’t sucking in the way she taught you thirty years ago, and how dare you come into the house of the Lord that way. Your mother, who complains of women in the church nowadays committing the sin of visible pantylines, reminds you that she raised you better than this. And you say, 'I’m tired of holding my breath.' Then you promise you won’t come to church that way again. And you keep your word because you won’t go to church again at all." This author has a gorgeous, full-hearted way of drawing the reader into the lives of these characters. I would recommend this book to anyone of any gender, race or age. Thank you #netgalley for letting me review an advance copy of #TheSecretLivesofChurchLadies! Due out in September 2020. Estimated reading time on Kindle: 3 hrs, 17 minutes.


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