Let the Church Say Amen, by ReShonda Tate Billingsley

First, let me say that I grabbed this book off a library shelf without knowing anything about it or the author. I skimmed the jacket and figured it would be a cute, light, maybe humorous read about a pastor–sort of an African-American At Home in Mitford. However, as I soon discovered, Let the Church Say Amen is not written from a Christian perspective, and I’d hesitate to even call it inspirational fiction.

Simon Jackson is the pastor of a thriving church and devotes all his time and energy to ministry, leaving nothing of himself for his family. His three children resent his neglect and question his love for them. Two of them seek solace in drugs and promiscuity, and the third–the son who is outwardly perfect and slated to become an associate pastor at Simon’s church–is waging his own inner battle. Simon’s loyal and supportive wife, Loretta, is desperate to mend their broken family before time runs out.

ReShonda Tate Billingsley is a talented author. She doesn’t waste words–she establishes her characters and sets up the plot very quickly. She’s good at balancing the perspectives of a lot of different characters at once. However, this book was too crass for my liking–a lot of profanity, casual sexual encounters, explicit drug use, some violence–definitely not the “cute” book I was expecting. I slogged through all of that, though, hoping to see some sincere repentance from the messed-up characters. There is a tiny bit of redeeming value at the end of the book, but not enough, in my opinion, especially considering that immoral choices are still tacitly approved.

My rating: 2/5

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