After fourteen years in prison, Gerald "Stew Pot" Reeves, age thirty-one, returns home to live with his mom in Parkland, a black middle-class neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. A frightening delinquent before being sent away (his infamies included butchering a neighbor's cat, torching another neighbor's garage, and terrorizing the locals with a scary pit bull named Hitler), his return sends Parkland residents into a religiously infused tailspin, which only increases when Stew Pot announces that he experienced a religious awakening in prison. Most neighbors are skeptical of this claim, with one notable exception: Mrs. Motley, a widowed retiree and the Reeves's next-door neighbor who loans Stew Pot a Bible, which is seen by Stew Pot and many in the community as a friendly gesture.
With uncompromising fervor (and with a new pit bull named John the Baptist), Stew Pot appoints himself the moral judge of Parkland. He discovers that a woman on his block is a lesbian and outs her to the neighborhood, the first battle in an escalating war of wills with immediate neighbors: after a mild threat from the block club president, Stew Pot reveals a secret that leaves the president's marriage in ruin; after catching a woman from across the street snooping around his backyard, Stew Pot commits an act of intimidation that leads directly to her death.
Stew Pot's prison mentor, an African American albino named Brother Crown, is released from prison not long after and moves in with Stew Pot and his mom. His plan is to go on a revival tour, with Stew Pot as his assistant. One night, as Stew Pot, Mrs. Reeves, and Brother Crown are witnessing around the neighborhood, a teenager from the block attempts to burn down the Reeves home. He botches the job and instead sets fire to Mrs. Motley's house. She is just barely rescued, but her house is a total loss and she moves in with a nearby family. Neighbors are sure Stew Pot is behind the fire. The retaliations against Stew Pot continue, sending him over an emotional ledge as his life spirals out of control with grave consequences. Through the unforgettable characters of Stew Pot and Mrs. Motley, the novel provides a reflection on God, the living and the dead, and the possibilities of finding love without reservation
- One of O, The Oprah Magazine's Ten Books to Pick Up Now, April 2014
- Shortlisted for the 2014 Great Lakes Great Reads Prize
- One of Five Books to Read Now, Chicago Tribune/Printers Row
- A Publishers Weekly Notable African-American Title
"In Bedrock Faith, Eric Charles May has created a world inhabited by unforgettable, believable characters-the fervid Stew Pot Reeves, the patient Mrs. Motley-who will linger in your heart long after you've finished their story. A bittersweet, timeless book."
- Valerie Wilson Wesley, author of Dying in the Dark
"In this vivid, suspenseful, funny, and compassionate novel of epiphanies, tragedies, and transformations, May drills down to our bedrock assumptions about ourselves, our values, and our communities. As sturdy as a Chicago bungalow and bursting with life, May's debut is perfect for book clubs."
- Booklist (starred review)
"A compelling look at a tight-knit community battling a threat from within."
- Chicago Social Magazine
"Bedrock Faith is an entertaining and heartfelt novel, and it provides an important look at a side of Chicago that is under-represented in today's literary fiction."
- Chicago Center for Literature and Photography
by Eric Charles May
Publisher: Akashic Books
Publication Date: March 2014
Format: Trade Paperback, 432 pages, 6" x 9"
Book Type: New