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This question was answered on Fri 01, Jun 2007 10:07am by admin

Question: Baby born to teenage mother, it's hands fused together as if in prayer

Home » Fiction » #571

Asked by belladonna8876 on Fri 01, Jun 2007 09:35am :
I had to read this book in one of my college lit courses but I don't think
it's a classic or even very old.  I remember the professor saying that he'd
stumbled upon it while at the book store and that it was fairly new.  It
was some time after 2000 when I read it but...

The story is about a young girl, a teenager who lives in a commune type
setting of a very religous community.  The community is cut off from the
world almost amish like but not amish.  They do send the children to public
school but that's as much contact as they get with the outside world.  

The girl ends up getting pregnant and the whole community practically shuns
her to the point of kicking her out, then the baby is born and it's hands
are fused together at teh palms so that it looks like it's praying and the
community thinks it a miracle and a sign from God and she suddenly becomes
a messiah/celebrity and every just forgets that they basically damned her
to hell before.  
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Answer by admin on Fri 01, Jun 2007 10:07am:

This is "Rapture of Canaan" (1995) by Sheri Reynolds.

"Rapture of Canaan" is available from Amazon.com:
(Help support Whatsthatbook.com by making purchases from Amazon.com after
clicking on one of our links).

Various descriptions of the book:

"In broad outline, Rapture is the story of when Ninah becomes pregnant and
gives birth while a member of a fundamentalist sect, The Church of Fire and
Brimstone and God's Almighty Baptizing Wind. First tortured for her "sin",
she is later beatified by the cult when the child is born with his hands
fused together in a prayerful position, and taken to be the next savior"

"Ninah, however, continues the questioning they had begun about what it
means to love God and one another, and what it means to be a Christian in a
world where good people like her Hindu friend from school are
non-believers. Is it about seeing a miracle messiah in Ninah and James'
baby Canaan, born with the skin of his hands bonding them in seemingly
endless prayer? Or is it about seeing God as love, the love that drives
Ninah to brutally cut Canaan's hands apart so that he can be free to be a
sinful and real human being?"

"After she becomes pregnant, James drowns himself in a pond. When the
child, Canaan, is born with his hands attached as if in prayer (an unlikely
birth defect), instead of sending him to the hospital for simple surgery,
the church leader chooses to preach and believe that he was created that
way to help teach the congregation about Jesus and prayer. Canaan is given
to a childless local couple and Ninah's milk (miraculously?) does not dry
up, allowing her to nurse him eight months later (not having nursed him
until that time). The church leader suffers a stroke and starts acting
strangely, at which point a few as yet unallowed changes are made to the
church and its members. In the most unlikely event of all, Ninah cuts
Canaan's hands apart with a scissors and, after a few minutes of crying,
the baby, starts...laughing. "

"Members of the Church of Fire and Brimstone and God's Almighty Baptizing
Wind spend their days and nights serving the Lord and waiting for the
Rapture--that moment just before the Second Coming of Christ when the saved
will be lifted bodily to heaven and the damned will be left behind to face
the thousand years of tribulation on earth. The tribulation, according to
Grandpa Herman, founder of Fire and Brimstone, will be an ugly time: "He
said that we'd run out of food. That big bugs would chase us around and
sting us with their tails . . . He said we'd turn on the faucet in the
bathroom and find only blood running out . . . He said evil multitudes
would come unto us and cut off our limbs, and that we wouldn't die . . .
And then he'd say, 'But you don't have to be left behind. You can go
straight to Heaven with all of God's special children if you'll only open
your hearts to Jesus . . .'"

Such talk of damnation weighs heavy on the mind of Ninah Huff, the
15-year-old narrator of Sheri Reynolds's second novel, The Rapture of
Canaan. To distract her from sinful thoughts about her prayer partner
James, Ninah puts pecan shells in her shoes and nettles in her bed. But
concentrating on the Passion of Jesus cannot, in the end, deter Ninah and
James from their passion for each other, and the consequences prove both
tragic and transforming for the entire community. "

Teenage girls--Fiction.
South Carolina--Fiction.
Domestic fiction.


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