Lay It on My Heart: A Novel

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For a Kentucky girl, coming of age takes a leap of faith in a novel that “will knock you sideways with its Southern charm” (O, The Oprah Magazine).
 
It’s summer in Kentucky. The low ceiling of August is pressing down on the religious town of East Winder, and on thirteen-year-old Charmaine Peake who can’t shake the feeling that she’s being tested. She and her mother get along better with a room between them, but circumstances have forced them to relocate to a tiny trailer by the river. The last in a line of local holy men, Charmaine’s father has turned from prophet to patient, his revelation lost in the clarifying haze of medication. Her sure-minded grandmother has suffered a stroke. And at church, where she has always felt most certain, Charmaine discovers that her archrival, a sanctimonious missionary kid, carries a dark, confusing secret. Suddenly Charmaine’s life can be sorted into what she wishes she knew and what she wishes she didn’t.
 
In a moving, hilarious portrait of mothers and daughters, “one of the most astonishingly talented writers today,” brings us into the heart of a family weathering the toughest patch of their lives. But most of all, Angela Pneuman marks out the seemingly unbearable realities of growing up, the strength that comes from finding real friendship, and the power of discovering—and accepting—who you are (Julie Orringer).
 
“Pneuman captures the voice of adolescence and the uncertainty of faith in this endearing novel.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
“Pneuman is a master of dark comedy, and the grimmer the material, the funnier it becomes in her twisted but capable hands. Like her literary ancestor, Flannery O’Connor, she shows how myopic allegedly religious people can be, but she doesn’t take cheap shots at religion either.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
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About the author

Angela Pneuman, raised in Kentucky, is a former Stegner Fellow and teaches fiction writing at Stanford University. Her work has been included in The Best American Short Stories, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. Her widely praised story collection, Home Remedies, was hailed as “call[ing] to mind Alice Munro” by the San Francisco Chronicle. She lives in Chicago and in the Bay Area of California.
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Jul 1, 2014
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Pages
320
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ISBN
9780547542713
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Coming of Age
Fiction / General
Fiction / Women
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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“Darkly hilarious” short stories by the acclaimed author of Lay It on My Heart (San Francisco Chronicle).
 
Set in the Bible Belt and featuring young women whose passions and emotions are often at war with the strict demands of their religious backgrounds, these stories of friendships, families, and fundamentalists mark the debut of a remarkable new literary talent.
 
“In these eight carefully wrought stories, set mostly in Kentucky, an exorcism is performed in the basement of a Methodist church, a teen-ager becomes convinced that she is ‘history’s second pregnant virgin,’ a divorced father returns from a trip to Jerusalem under the impression that he is a prophet, and an elderly churchwoman performs home surgeries with a bottle of Jim Beam and an ice pick. . . . Pneuman shrewdly probes the dark underside of idealized emotions like faith, frequently employing adolescent narrators to reveal adults’ hypocrisy.” —The New Yorker
 
“Not the kind of girls you’d expect to meet in the evangelical Christian communities that Pneuman brings to life. Her girls dance and swear, drink and lie; they deflower each other with cucumbers and threaten their mothers with golf clubs. Pneuman . . . offers a clear-eyed view of the role religion plays in the lives of her characters. But her real subject is the complexity of female relationships, the ways that women depend on each other in a world where men often make themselves scarce.” —San Francisco Chronicle
 
“The quietly desperate girls who slouch and grimace and pray through Angela Pneuman’s pitch-perfect debut story collection, Home Remedies, live in Bible Belt Kentucky and have names like Priscilla and Shiloh and Laeticia. They have mothers who suck the air out of a room and keen about love . . . best friends as benign as scorpions, and fathers who are absent or dying or crazed. With her dark sense of humor and almost eerie apprehension of what people are too clenched to say, Pneuman is a stunning new talent to watch.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“Angela Pneuman must surely be one of the most gifted young writers around.” —Lorrie Moore, New York Times–bestselling author of Birds of America
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