Samson's quirky writing style dives into the depths of Myrtle Charmaine Whitehead's troubled heart. Charmaine is abandoned by her mentally ill mother at the age of 11. Never having known her father, she's left alone, with a hole in her spirit.

Against the odds, Charmaine builds a healthy marriage, raises two children who are not biologically hers and achieves fame as a gospel singer. But beneath her success lurks hatred for the woman who abandoned her and fear that the depression she battles will one day bring on serious mental illness. Then scandal erupts among Christian televangelists and threatens everything she's gained.

Samson wrestles with gritty issues such as abandonment, madness and scandal in the church. She does it with compassion, wit and a fine sense of what is truly important in life. Charmaine Whitehead has taken a place among my favorite heroines of literature. (Apr., 448 pp., $12.95)

Reviewed by: 
Jill Elizabeth Nelson