Cover image for Southernmost : a novel
Southernmost : a novel
House, Silas, 1971- author.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Physical Description:
338 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"Published simultaneously in Canada by Thomas Allen & Son Limited"--Title page verso.
"When an evangelical preacher in Tennessee offers shelter to two gay men after a catastrophic flood, he's met with resistance by his wife and congregation, and eventually loses custody of his son. He decides to kidnap his son and flee to Key West, where he suspects his estranged gay brother is living"-- Provided by publisher.


Call Number
Material Type
Corning - Southeast Steuben County Library 1 FIC HOU Adult Fiction Book
Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 FICTION Adult Fiction Book

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"A novel for our time, a courageous and necessary book." --Jennifer Haigh, author of Heat and Light

In this stunning novel about judgment, courage, heartbreak, and change, author Silas House wrestles with the limits of belief and the infinite ways to love.

In the aftermath of a flood that washes away much of a small Tennessee town, evangelical preacher Asher Sharp offers shelter to two gay men. In doing so, he starts to see his life anew--and risks losing everything: his wife, locked into her religious prejudices; his congregation, which shuns Asher after he delivers a passionate sermon in defense of tolerance; and his young son, Justin, caught in the middle of what turns into a bitter custody battle.

With no way out but ahead, Asher takes Justin and flees to Key West, where he hopes to find his brother, Luke, whom he'd turned against years ago after Luke came out. And it is there, at the southernmost point of the country, that Asher and Justin discover a new way of thinking about the world, and a new way of understanding love.

Southernmost is a tender and affecting book, a meditation on love and its consequences.

Author Notes

Silas House is the author of five novels, including A Parchment of Leaves . He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times and a former commentator for NPR's All Things Considered . House is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers and is the winner of the E. B. White Award, the Nautilus Award, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Hobson Medal for Literature, and other honors.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* House's (Coal Tattoo, 2004) latest begins with the rising waters of the Cumberland River, a flood that causes an epiphany in pastor Asher Sharp. His sermon on acceptance and love and the wrongness of homophobia, though, loses him his church, his marriage, and, worst of all, his son, Justin. Desperate, he kidnaps Justin and heads to Key West, hoping to find his brother, Luke, whom he abandoned because of his own stubborn righteousness. That said, one doesn't read a Silas House book for the plot. His storytelling is rich, but also spare, with descriptive passages that engage all five senses without overstating the profundity. And his characters Asher, who is coming to terms with his own cowardice; Justin, a tenderhearted boy who doesn't share his father's crisis of faith, but doesn't share his religion, either; even Shady, a stray dog who becomes a touchstone for Justin are so complicated and real that it's a shame to have to put the book down. References to indie music, viral videos, and antigay county clerk Kim Davis place the book in context and may grease the wheels of some good book-group discussion. Most of all, Southermost is a reminder that life is hard, and it is beautiful.--Maguire, Susan Copyright 2018 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

House (Eli the Good) tackles themes of forced change and faith succumbing to fear in this suspenseful narrative about a father and son navigating personal and spiritual upheaval. After years of work and worship in a rural Tennessee evangelical congregation, pastor Asher Sharp begins to doubt his faith when he alone offers help to a local gay couple in the wake of a devastating flood. His new tolerance is met with hostility and confusion by his congregants and family members, leading to a crisis in his marriage and a sudden separation from his only son, Justin, a quiet, thoughtful nine-year-old. Unwilling to let Justin live with his mother, Asher's increasing panic leads him to abscond with his son to Key West in search of his estranged brother, Luke. As father and son search for Luke, they find sun, solace, and new friends. The novel's early sections are burdened by clichéd interactions between Asher and his wife and congregation; some depictions of Asher's crisis and Tennessee's faithful are cartoonish, and Justin's maturity and wisdom stretch the limits of plausibility. But after Asher and Justin's journey takes center stage, House brings Key West to life. The Sharps' blossoming affection for the town and its residents contrasts poignantly with their tense, tenuous circumstances. Although it starts slowly, the story leads to a seemingly inevitable yet suspenseful climax that will leave readers floored. House's fine moral drama pleasingly mixes spiritual reflection and a story of personal healing with brilliant descriptions of summer days in languid Key West. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

The metaphor of a flood often signifies the cleansing of old ways, thus allowing for new paths to open. In this new work from House (A Parchment of Leaves), set in a rural Tennessee valley, brothers Luke and Asher are estranged after Luke comes out as gay and, faced with condemnation, leaves home. Some years later the Cumberland River floods and the community is decimated. In the aftermath, Asher, a preacher, offers housing to a gay couple, for he now sees that all people are children of God. For this, he is rejected by his family and his church. He flees, along with his son, to find and to reconcile with Luke. They journey to Key West, where, with help from some folks (possibly angels in disguise), Luke and Asher forge a new relationship. This dialog-driven portrait of a family in pain is lightened by the presence of a dog, as well as descriptions of the sensory wonders of the United States' southernmost point: the scents, the sounds, and the changing, enchanting colors of the skies over Key West. VERDICT House's tale will strike a chord with those who have taken their own arduous path to -acceptance, just as it may bring enlightenment to those who are trying to understand the experience of others.-Susanne Wells, Indianapolis P.L. © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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