Fire and Brimstone by Laurinda D. Brown
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Hypocrisy and religion. Homosexuality and spirituality. Sex and love. All are elements that fan the flames of Fire and Brimstone, a gritty urban novel of two totally different women who just cant seem to distinguish between religion and spirituality until its too late. Or is it?
Chris Desmereaux, single mother of two, is book-smart but lacks the know-how when it comes to the streets. A college graduate faced with issues such as food stamps, welfare, and unemployment, Chris seeks stability, love and compassion but only finds heartache after she returns home. Trapped in a Southern culture where one is more likely to be put down instead of uplifted, Chris earns an advanced ghetto degree the day Gayle slinks into her life and sends her reeling out of control.
Gayle Evans, Minister of Music with one of the most beautiful voices God ever created, has got issues. Destroying every life she touches, Gayle brings more misery than harmony. Quick to praise the Lords name but even quicker to run a game of deception, she has a lesson or two to learn after she uses her relationship with God to break up a seemingly happy home. Gayle flaunts the persona of what does love have to do with it, and, when she falls for Chris, she finds out the hard way that love has everything to do with it. Complicated and pained, in church every time the door opens, this is one sistah-gurl with an agenda, and she knows how to work it.
Fire and Brimstone explores lesbianism and Black motherhood as both separate and integrated issues impacting the main characters role as a single parent, while opening dialogue on such issues as economics, same-sex domestic violence, and intra-racial castes systems among African-Americans. These issues, mixed with a portrayal of a myriad of relationships mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters - embody a true meaning of fire and brimstone that has yet to be shared with the world. The author does a tremendous job of unveiling the pain families inflict upon each other pain that has little to do with racism or any other popular isms. This novel is a significant creation delving not only into the complex relationships of African-American lesbians, but it also reminds us that gay women are everywhere, even in the African-American church a place where no one expects to find them.
Set against a backdrop of Southern mores, hypocrisy and religion take center stage in this intricate tale of contradictions with an emotional pendulum swinging from anger to elation, from satisfaction to frustration, from tears of sorrow to tears of joy. But with the ending comes the understanding that with Fire and Brimstone, true flames are the ones that burn within.