Melanie Sumrow’s debut novel, The Prophet Calls, takes on powerful topics amid the taboo setting of an ultra-religious, cultlike community.
Thirteen-year-old Gentry Forrester lives with her father, three mothers and numerous siblings and half-siblings in the remote foothills of New Mexico, where they patiently wait for the apocalypse, when God will take her and the rest of the Chosen home to the celestial kingdom. Gentry feels lucky to be a part of this holy group, and she does her best to obey the laws of the Prophet and “keep sweet” as he commands. But when the Prophet outlaws music, the one thing that makes the spirited and strong-willed Gentry feel like herself, everything in her carefully constructed life begins to unravel, and soon she’s faced with an impossible choice: leave the community and the only life she’s even known or risk losing herself.
At the heart of this novel is Gentry’s love for her family and for the beautiful music that brings them together. The questions that Gentry faces—questions of identity and belonging, when to bow to authority and when to stand up for what’s in your heart—are universally relatable. Gentry is a protagonist you can’t help but cheer for, and her journey from fear to doubt to empowerment is powerful, affecting and not to be missed.