Monday, November 26, 2012

CAN I GET AN AMEN by Sarah Healy

Publisher:  New American Library
Date published:  June 5, 2012
ISBN:  978-0-451-23677-7
Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Reviewed by Lynne
Obtained via publisher


Ellen Carlisle was raised as a Christian, but never practiced being one as she grew up.  She did go to Jesus camp, attended Sunday school, and never involved herself with the occult.  Still, she grew up believing she would have the life she had dreamed of.  But infertility prevents her from pleasing her ambitious husband, Gary, who’s a lawyer.
Never dreaming the worst of her marriage, or of him, Ellen is shocked when Gary suddenly decides to divorce her.

Devastated by this turn of events and her eventual unemployment, she finds she has no choice but to return to her hometown in New Jersey.  She moves in with her right-wing, born again, Christian parents.  But, of course, she has to listen to her mother’s countless preaching and lectures on Christianity.   Because it’s only fair, Ellen finds herself making a deal with her mother.  She must look for a job and attend weekly services at one of the two churches her mother attends.

When Ellen eventually finds work in an attorney’s office, she never dreams it will be for the husband of her high school nemesis, Parker.  Nor does she realize she will soon meet a man she believes will open her heart. 

Convinced everything happens for a reason, until things start falling apart again, Ellen is finally forced to dig deep and discover her own brand of faith as well as realize that sometimes one has to accept the blessings one is given, exactly as they are.

CAN I GET AN AMEN? by Sarah Healy is an exceptionally delightful debut novel.  It is very well written, well plotted, well paced, and a fun page turner that will keep the reader riveted from start to finish.  I absolutely loved it and fully intend to read it again at some point.  There is just something about this book that tugs at one’s heart strings and makes the reader want to keep involving herself with the story and its wonderful characters.

Our heroine, Ellen Carlisle, is quick to draw the reader in.  She is so easy to relate to, so easy to care about.  Her story reflects so much of the reality of other people’s lives, that it is surely what helps to make CAN I GET AN AMEN? what it is.  Her problems and struggles easily help the reader identify herself with Ellen in many ways, especially in today’s society.

Healy has done a fabulous job of bringing conflict to CAN I GET AN AMEN?, not only between Ellen and her family members, but between former school mates as well.  Parker and her husband are great characters who not only have their own problems and secrets, but somehow manage to draw Ellen into them as well.  The reader will come to hate Parker for awhile, but then will later empathize with the truth about her.

I really enjoyed getting to know Mark, Ellen’s love interest.  One memorable scene that sticks in my mind is when Ellen runs out on him, and he is left sitting outside on the stoop alone, in anguish.  I felt his pain and even felt angry with Ellen for doing that to him.  That was some great writing.

It is interesting how Healy manages to make Ellen’s infertility such a thorn in her side.  It has caused her to lose her husband and then, to make matters worse, everyone around her seems to be getting pregnant or already have children, which seem to be flaunted before poor, childless, infertile Ellen.  Especially by Parker.

CAN I GET AN AMEN? shows well how Ellen grows as a person.  Her pain and struggles have only made her wiser and more mature, so it is with a happy heart we see her coming to more self-awareness of what she wants out of life and of what she must do to achieve happiness. 

CAN I GET AN AMEN? is an incredible read, and I was eager to embrace it once I realized how wonderful a book it truly is.  I hated for it to end.  Healy is a natural talent, and I look forward to her upcoming novel, GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.

CAN I GET AN AMEN? is not to be missed.  Kudos to Ms. Healy for such an outstanding debut.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


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