Revival Season

Every summer, fifteen-year-old Miriam Horton and her family pack themselves tight in their old minivan and travel through small southern towns for revival season: the time when Miriam’s father holds massive healing services for people desperate to be cured of ailments and disease. After one such service in which Reverend Horton’s healing powers are tested like never before, Miriam witnesses a shocking act of violence that shakes her belief in everything she’s known to be true.

When the Hortons return home, Miriam’s confusion only grows as she discovers she might have the power to heal—even though her father and the church have always made it clear that such power is denied to women. Over the course of the next year, Miriam must decide between her religion, her family, and her newfound power that might be able to save others, but, if discovered by her father, could destroy Miriam.

Celebrating both feminism and faith, Revival Season is a story of spiritual awakening and disillusionment in a Southern, black, Evangelical community. Monica West’s transporting coming-of-age novel explores complicated family and what it means to live among the community of the faithful.

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Select praise for Revival Season

  • Tender and wise, Revival Season explores a girl’s faith in both her family and in God. Monica West’s formidable talent is matched by her generosity of spirit, making the most winning combination a reader could wish for.

    Ann Patchett
  • There’s a Revival Season size gap in our current literature. This moving portrait of an Evangelical black family is generous and compassionate (even as it critiques the Church to which they are so loyal) when so often writing about such people tends to the cynical and derisive. This novel is ultimately about complicated familial love, a young girl’s coming into herself, and the price, and beauty, of being among the community of the faithful.

    Ayana Mathis
  • Monica West has given us a riveting tale full of deep wells of compassion even as it tangles with the complexities and flaws of this troubled Southern family. Compact, suspenseful, and written with incredible elegance, Revival Season is a highly rewarding, utterly original read—one of my favorite debuts of the year.

    Jami Attenberg
  • In these wonderfully dramatic and gripping pages, fifteen-year-old Miriam finds herself fighting a duel with her powerful father. The stakes couldn’t be higher: faith, family, money, power and the healing of a damaged child. I love how complicated these characters are and how intelligently West writes about the mysteries of the church. A brilliant debut.

    Margot Livesey
  • Revival Season is a novel about faith that keeps faith with the best traditions of the novel. Immersive, insightful, warmly affecting, Monica West’s debut is one to cherish.

    Peter Ho Davies
  • A spectacular coming-of-age novel… Revival Season is not only an inner journey of the becoming of a young lady in the South, but also a precise geological picture of the Bible Belt and how faith shapes the community and the family.

    The Millions
  • Explosive…West does a fantastic job illuminating the struggles faced by women and girls in the Southern Baptist evangelical movement, and the change in Miriam is palpable and moving. West’s deep understanding of her characters and community makes for essential reading.

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • West’s debut is a bold insight into traditional southern Christianity and its contradictions to contemporary perspectives on gender equality. She writes with a melodic cadence that is honest and often heartbreaking. Her characters are three-dimensional people who tug at readers’ emotions. West’s refreshing literary voice and thought-provoking perspective hint at a wealth of stories to come.

    Booklist
  • This propulsive story, narrated by a strong, young voice, is one of the most memorable and moving novels I have read in recent months…. [Miriam is] a fascinating character, and her transformation over the course of the story is impressive, especially as violence upends and reverberates throughout her world. The plot and characters of Revival Season are remarkably well rendered, but West’s language is especially compelling, pulling readers into Miriam’s most defining moments. The sentences are downright musical, and each chapter paints a picture, leaving the reader eager for all that awaits.

    BookPage (starred review)
  • Each year brings a new round of writers releasing their work into the world for the very first time, yet it remains relatively rare for one of them to produce a novel so profoundly well written that it fills a hole readers didn’t even know existed in the canon. Monica West, however, has managed to do just that with a tale so authentic it will crack your heart right open.

    Washington Independent Review of Books
  • In Revival Season, her atmospheric, layered debut, Monica West probes that annual rite, when evangelicals are called to go forth and preach to all nations. West steeps her tale in a rich broth of religious ardor and personal betrayal… West creates a vivid, intimate world on the page, dramatizing the compromises evangelical women must make.

    The New York Times Book Review
  • Every year, the Horton family travels across the South for revival season, where the family patriarch, a prominent Baptist preacher, uses his healing powers. Young Miriam, his daughter, is thrown into crisis by something she witnesses on one of those trips in this intricate story of growing up.

    Newsweek
  • The women of Baptist churches, tent revivals, and soul salvation are often relegated to silent, supporting roles, but in Revival Season, Monica West puts them at the center of her narrative… Walking with Miriam as she comes of age in Revival Season is a pleasure.

    Bust
  • Spellbinding…. It is nearly impossible to avoid falling in love with Miriam and becoming entranced by this family’s story…. West’s debut marks the entry of a stalwart new voice in American fiction. James Baldwin famously said that his debut novel was “the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else.” We can only hope that West’s literary launch will similarly be the first of many.

    The Washington Post
  • A standout debut about spending summers on the road for revival season and learning that everything you’ve been told could be a lie, this is a smart novel about empowerment with a memorable character at its core.

    The Boston Globe
  • Readers trust her ability to lead us on this breath-stopping journey… this is a remarkable book for this season, astounding in its power to transport the reader to another universe. “Revival Season” assures that Monica West is a writer to watch.

    The Seattle Times