cover image Heaven & Earth

Heaven & Earth

Joshua Senter. Roubidoux, $34 (264p) ISBN 978-1-73758-562-6

A megachurch and a marriage are rocked by scandal in the deeply felt latest from Senter (Still the Night Call). Bestselling Christian author Ruth Christianson learns from a cable news show that her husband, Sam, a megachurch pastor in Charleston, S.C., has been having drug-fueled encounters with a male sex worker. She decides to stand by him, for now, and the couple relocates with their three children to Sam’s parents’ farm in rural Missouri. It’s rough going, though. Sam’s imperious mother blames Ruth for Sam’s sexuality, and her youngest son has stopped talking. The turmoil triggers flashbacks to Ruth’s upbringing, including the sudden death of her religiously devout grandmother when Ruth was a child and the bitter argument about reproduction rights she had with her atheist mother shortly before she died. Then the Christiansons face another crisis, pushing Ruth to the breaking point. Though a big character shift feels underdeveloped, for the most part Senter portrays Ruth’s emotional upheaval with nuance and depth. It’s a thoughtful exploration of the uneasy intersection between religion and sexuality. (Self-published)