cover image I Say a Little Prayer

I Say a Little Prayer

E. Lynn Harris. Doubleday, $21.95 (295pp) ISBN 978-0-385-51272-5

Harris takes a sympathetic look at the difficulty of reconciling homosexuality and faith in the black church in his lively ninth novel. Thirty-eight-year old Chauncey Greer classifies his heft sexual appetite as ""basically bi with a gay leaning;"" but also needs a personal relationship with God. Once a member of a boy band called Reunion (his deeply felt love affair with fellow bandmate Sweet D precipitated its breakup), Chauncey now owns a successful Atlanta-based greeting card company. Chauncey is a regular at the progressive Abundant Joy Baptist Church, where Pastor Kenneth's inspired preaching reignites his dreams of a singing career. After Chauncey sings a soul-stirring solo at church, the pastor invites him to perform at an upcoming revival led by the fundamentalist Bishop Upchurch and his vindictive wife Grayson. But Chauncey's friends plan to boycott the revival because of the Upchurches' gay-bashing, and Chauncey must decide between his passion for singing and his personal identity-a decision complicated by the reappearance of a figure from his past. Though supporting characters remain flat, Harris (A Love of My Own) illuminates a divide in the black church while exploring the universal theme of broken love.