This debut collection explores how Black women and girls raised as Christians navigate between the church's double standards and their own needs and passions, daring to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good.
... juicy goodness bursts from every page ... While continually acknowledging the importance of the church in the Black community, Philyaw sees the contradictions it creates with clarity, sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious ... This collection marks the emergence of a bona fide literary treasure. As one of Philyaw’s characters might say, praise the Lord.
Like many characters in this compelling story collection, the gifts that women possess don’t pay off in the ways that they should. This is one source of their sadness and loneliness, which are some of the main themes within the book. And it rings true about the lives of contemporary Black women ... The flatter characters serve the purpose of the satire and its message ... Philyaw writes the scenes of caregiving without sentimentality. Her characters create intimacy and have hope, not despite their ugly odds but because of them. It’s why, in the midst of her dementia and pain, Mama’s singing voice is 'strong and certain'—the last words of the final story and an apt description for this collection.
Most of the stories deal with heterosexuality, but Jael,Snowfall, and, Eula approach same-sex relationships with nuance and without judgment ... Philyaw’s portrayal of Southern conservatism may be unoriginal, but her ode to black female Southern culture sings from the page ... What happens when Black women give the church their everything? What happens to those of us who don’t, who find more secular ways to cope with life, who find God without losing ourselves? What secrets are we not sharing with each other and with ourselves that could move us a little closer to freedom? It is these questions Philyaw coaxes us to ask, and this little book on a Sunday afternoon is possibly the most comfortable way in the world to get the conversation started.