The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw | Review

In recent news, the title “The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” has gathered buzz because there is an upcoming television series in development based on the book. The book is a collection of nine short stories about the lives of different generations of Black women and girls navigating their roles in and out of the church community. Philaw writes about the private details of characters that you’re bound to feel connected to. Whether it’s a forbidden crush, fear of a new relationship or someone trying to get through grief, “Secret Lives” covers raw human emotions in perspectives that aren’t seen too often.

Within the church, the Black women and girls try to handle the pressures of being perfect Christians. In the stories, sometimes trying too hard to be good ended up being bad for the characters. Their stories include battles with their sexuality, self-image, and family relations. Intimate details about their beliefs come to the forefront when their passions don’t necessarily align with church lessons. The secrets are juicy with the perfect mix of comedic and poignant moments. Definitely pick this up if you want a small book with lots of entertaining drama.

Review by: DeKeshia Horne



The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church’s double standards and their own needs and passions.

There is fourteen-year-old Jael, who has a crush on the preacher’s wife. At forty-two, Lyra realizes that her discomfort with her own body stands between her and a new love. As Y2K looms, Caroletta’s “same time next year” arrangement with her childhood best friend is tenuous. A serial mistress lays down the ground rules for her married lovers. In the dark shadows of a hospice parking lot, grieving strangers find comfort in each other.

With their secret longings, new love, and forbidden affairs, these church ladies are as seductive as they want to be, as vulnerable as they need to be, as unfaithful and unrepentant as they care to be, and as free as they deserve to be.

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