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The daughter of one of the South’s most famous Baptist preachers discovers a shocking secret about her father that puts her at odds with both her faith and her family in this “tender and wise” (Ann Patchett, author of Commonwealth) debut novel.
Every summer, fifteen-year-old Miriam Horton and her family pack themselves tight in their old minivan and travel through small southern towns for revival season: the time when Miriam’s father—one of the South’s most famous preachers—holds massive healing services for people desperate to be cured of ailments and disease.This summer, the revival season doesn’t go as planned, and after one service in which Reverend Horton’s healing powers are tested like never before, Miriam witnesses a shocking act of violence that shakes her belief in her father—and in her faith.
When the Hortons return home, Miriam’s confusion only grows as she discovers she might have the power to heal—even though her father and the church have always made it clear that such power is denied to women. Over the course of the next year, Miriam must decide between her faith, her family, and her newfound power that might be able to save others, but, if discovered by her father, could destroy Miriam.
Celebrating both feminism and faith, Revival Season is a story of spiritual awakening and disillusionment in a Southern, black, Evangelical community. Monica West’s transporting coming-of-age novel explores complicated family and what it means to live among the community of the faithful.
About the Author
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Monica West received her BA from Duke University, her MA from New York University, and her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she was a Rona Jaffe Graduate Fellow. She was a Southern Methodist University Kimbilio Fellow in 2014, and she will be a Hedgebrook Writer in Residence in 2021. Revival Season is her first novel.
About the Host
Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Kiese Laymon, Ottilie Schillig Professor in English and Creative Writing and the University of Mississippi, is the author of the novel Long Division, the memoir Heavy, and the essay collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.
"Explosive.... West does a fantastic job illuminating the struggles faced by women and girls in the Southern Baptist evangelical movement, and the change in Miriam is palpable and moving. West's deep understanding of her characters and community makes for essential reading."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
West’s debut is a bold insight into traditional southern Christianity and its contradictions to contemporary perspectives on gender equality. She writes with a melodic cadence that is honest and often heartbreaking. Her characters are three-dimensional people who tug at readers' emotions. West's refreshing literary voice and thought-provoking perspective hint at a wealth of stories to come.—Booklist
"Tender and wise, Revival Season explores a girl's faith in both her family and in God. Monica West's formidable talent is matched by her generosity of spirit, making the most winning combination a reader could wish for."—Ann Patchett
"There's a REVIVAL SEASON size gap in our current literature. This moving portrait of an Evangelical black family is generous and compassionate (even as it critiques the Church to which they are so loyal) when so often writing about such people tends to the cynical and derisive. This novel is ultimately about complicated familial love, a young girl's coming into herself, and the price, and beauty, of being among the community of the faithful." —Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
"Monica West has given us a riveting tale full of deep wells of compassion even as it tangles with the complexities and flaws of this troubled Southern family. Compact, suspenseful, and written with incredible elegance, Revival Season is a highly rewarding, utterly original read -- one of my favorite debuts of the year." —Jami Attenberg, bestselling author of The Middlesteins
"REVIVAL SEASON is a novel about faith that keeps faith with the best traditions of the novel. Immersive, insightful, warmly affecting, Monica West’s debut is one to cherish." —Peter Ho Davies, author of A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself
"In these wonderfully dramatic and gripping pages, fifteen-year-old Miriam finds herself fighting a duel with her powerful father. The stakes couldn’t be higher: faith, family, money, power and the healing of a damaged child. I love how complicated these characters are and how intelligently West writes about the mysteries of the church. A brilliant debut."—Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in the Field
"A spectacular coming-of-age novel... Revival Season is not only an inner journey of the becoming of a young lady in the South, but also a precise geological picture of the Bible Belt and how faith shapes the community and the family."—The Millions