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Tackling Doubt after Divorce: Not Your Typical Chick-Lit Novel

Sarah Healy's 'Can I Get an Amen?' deals with faith and life in an honest, compelling way.

I rarely read chick lit, but I couldn't walk past the Jesus bobble head on the cover of Sarah Healy's Can I Get an Amen? without flipping it open. And after reading the first few pages—which include apple juice at Sunday school, Christian camp and friendship bracelets, and "a Match.com type of deity" who wants to have a "relationship with you, Ellen!"—I decided to take the book home.

I finished Healy's debut novel, out recently from NAL Trade/Penguin, in an afternoon, and considered it one well spent. Though it deals too realistically with some touchy subjects to fit well in the Christian chick lit category, the book is shot through with a faith both complex and charitably cast.

Four pages in, a four-letter word answered my first question: why Healy hadn't gone with a Christian publishing house.

The story deals with the broken lives and messy relationships surrounding recent divorcee Ellen Carlisle. The book follows the 31-year-old's move back home with her cheery, conservative Christian parents after Ellen's husband leaves over her inability to conceive.

As Carlisle tries to rebuild her life, she faces an outspoken mother who, for instance, asks for public congregational prayer for the divorce and infertility, a father who keeps secrets, a gay brother, an outcast sister, and old high school friends and enemies with unexpected adult problems. At first, Ellen copes with her divorce by flirting with strangers at ...

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