The Secret lives of Church Ladies became roughly popular on my side of Instagram two months ago. I’ve always just saved it and moved on but While I was looking for what to listen to on Scribd, I came across the audiobook and I paused the book I was listening to just to get a feel of what it’s going to be like. The narrator’s voice had me hooked and I found myself listening to it in one sitting.
“The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.”
From the introduction of this post, you can already tell I liked this book. The secret lives of church ladies is a collection of short stories that explores Black women in the church and girls whose mothers are ‘church women’ trying to balance being themselves and suppressing parts of themselves to uphold the image created by other flawed humans. It points out the hypocrisy in the church and I reckon some people might not like this. So, if you’re not ready for this conversation, you might want to skip this post.
I grew up in the church as a pastor’s kid and I can tell you the hypocrisy stinks. Maybe this played a role in how relatable some of these characters were. People often forget that just because you’re a ‘church lady’ does not mean you’re suddenly not human. We act shocked when a religious person is outed for doing something human because we have placed them on a pedestal and can’t seem to grasp the concept of them making mistakes. It sorta reminded me of the TV SHOW – Greenleaf. (If you’ve watched this, you might like this book).
What I loved about these stories was how direct and honest they were. The audiobook narrator, Janina Edwards did a fantastic job bringing these characters to life and making it even more enjoyable for me. As with most collections of short stories, I enjoyed some stories more than others. The stories that stuck with me were Dear Sister, Peach Cobbler, Jael, How to love a physicist and Instructions for married Christian husbands.
In this collection, Philyaw was able to explore womanhood, motherhood, mother-daughter relationships, sexuality, infidelity and faith.
If you haven’t read this, you should definitely check it out. I definitely recommend the audiobook. You can listen to it on Scribd.