SOUTH­ERN­MOST

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight - LETI­TIA MONT­GOMERY-RODGERS

In South­ern­most, Si­las House’s story of de­struc­tion, faith, and ac­count­abil­ity, the Cum­ber­land River is about to break one man’s whole world, un­moor­ing him from his small Ten­nessee town and all he once thought sta­ble.

Asher Sharp could hear the flood be­fore he reached the top of the ridge. There he saw the mas­sively swollen river sup­ping at the edges of the lower fields … the roaring river, churn­ing with trees and houses and an­i­mals.

It’s into this mael­strom that Justin, Asher’s beloved, ten­der­hearted son, runs in search of his dog. By grace, new­com­ers Jimmy and Stephen are down by the river and save Justin from the flood. Re­al­iz­ing these men have lost ev­ery­thing them­selves, Asher in­vites them into his home and of­fers them hos­pi­tal­ity. It’s clear that these men are a cou­ple, and Asher’s wife, Ly­dia, sees them as a threat. Like many in this com­mu­nity, Ly­dia be­lieves it’s no co­in­ci­dence that the rains started the same day that Ten­nessee le­gal­ized gay mar­riage.

As the preacher at the lo­cal Pen­te­costal church, Asher has long held the same be­liefs. But in the flood’s wreck­age, Asher’s grief over his es­tranged gay brother comes tum­bling out, de­mand­ing equal parts resti­tu­tion and de­struc­tion. In a des­per­ate break from his present and his past, Asher lights out with Justin on a run to­ward a fu­ture so bold and dif­fer­ent that he can’t even name it, ex­cept to say: it looks like Florida.

A jour­ney of self-dis­cov­ery, South­ern­most dives into the fa­mil­iar, trou­bled wa­ters of toxic re­li­gion and mas­culin­ity to res­cue a story of love be­tween men—fa­thers, sons, broth­ers, and lovers.

House deftly shows there’s no place in­su­lated from a nec­es­sary con­fronta­tion with the past. Plumb­ing the depths of love and judg­ment, this novel is sur­pris­ing in the places it’ll take you. It’s an un­flinch­ing yet gen­er­ous por­trait of ru­ral Amer­ica that’s honest, re­fresh­ing, and com­plex.

Si­las House, Al­go­nquin (JUNE) Hard­cover $26.95 (352pp), 978-1-61620-625-3

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