by Vic Sizemore
West Virginia University Press, 2024
Paper: 978-1-959000-02-0 | eISBN: 978-1-959000-03-7
Library of Congress Classification PS3619.I984G64 2024
Dewey Decimal Classification 813.6


Grappling with innate desires and LGBTQ identity, a family struggles under the oppressive expectations foisted on them by fundamentalist Christianity.

Told through alternating perspectives, God of River Mud chronicles the lives of Berna Minor, her husband, their four children, and Berna’s secret lover.

To escape a life of poverty and abuse, Berna Cannaday marries Zechariah Minor, a fundamentalist Baptist preacher, and commits herself to his faith, trying to make it her own. After Zechariah takes a church beside the Elk River in rural Clay, West Virginia, Berna falls in love with someone from their congregation—Jordan, a woman who has known since childhood that he was meant to be a man. Berna keeps her secret hidden as she struggles to be the wife and mother she believes God wants her to be. Berna and Zechariah’s children struggle as well, trying to reconcile the theology they are taught at home with the fast-changing world around them. And Jordan struggles to find a community and a life that allow him both to be safely and fully himself, as Jay, and to be loved for who he is.

As the decades and stories unfold, traditional evangelical Bible culture and the values of rural Appalachia clash against innate desires, LGBTQ identity, and gender orientation. Sympathies develop—sometimes unexpectedly—as the characters begin to reconcile their faith and their love. God of River Mud delves into the quandary of those marginalized and dehumanized within a religious patriarchy and grapples with the universal issues of identity, faith, love, and belonging.

See other books on: Appalachian Region | Faith | Families | God | Identity (Psychology)
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