The Rapture of Canaan

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The Rapture of Canaan
recent paperback cover
Author Sheri Reynolds
Country United States
Language English
Genre Novel
Publisher Diane Pub
Publication date
June 1995
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-7881-6169-5 (paperback first edition)

The Rapture of Canaan is a novel by Sheri Reynolds. The book was chosen as an Oprah's Book Club selection in April 1997.

Adolescent Ninah lives in a strict fundamentalist Christian community (The Church of Fire and Brimstone and God's Almighty Baptizing Wind) led by her grandfather Herman. The community is governed by a series of strict rules covering everything from drinking to speaking to people outside of the community, with punishments ranging from sleeping on stinging nettles to spending a night in a grave.

Despite the rules, Ninah cannot stop herself from falling in love with James, a boy a year older who is also her nephew by marriage. The community allows Ninah and James to become "prayer partners" in order that they can spend time with one another in the hopes of a future marriage. James and Ninah pray for Jesus to speak through them in order to help them defeat their attraction for one another, but eventually their physical attraction is too strong, and Ninah becomes pregnant, James, fearing punishment from the community, commits suicide. Ninah insists that Jesus, rather than James, is the father of the baby.

During her pregnancy, Ninah mulls over her feelings toward God and decides that her experience of God's love is closer to her feelings toward James than to the attitude of her church. However, when the baby is born with its palms attached in an attitude of prayer, the entire community is convinced that baby Canaan is the new Messiah.

Characters[edit]

Ninah Ninah is a passionate, thoughtful young woman who strives to be a good daughter and a good Christian, but who cannot help questioning the rules of her strict religious society.

James Ninah's lover, he and Ninah grew up together.

Nanna Ninah's grandmother. She is married to Grandpa Herman, the church's leader. Ninah is her favorite grandchild, and Nanna protects and loves her as best she can. She shares some of Ninah's feelings about God and the church community.

Ajita Patel Ajita is a girl from Ninah's school. Ninah worries that Ajita's Hindu religion means that Ajita is hell-bound, but cannot reconcile her church's teachings of damnation with the kind, generous Ajita.

Canaan Ninah's infant son. When he is born, he comes out with his hands sealed together. Everyone thinks he is the new Messiah and that the rapture will come in his lifetime.

Grandpa Herman The leader of the Church of Fire and Brimstone and God's Almighty Baptizing Wind. He makes up all the community's rules and strictly enforces their punishments.