"The Girl Who Slept with God is full of passion and compassion. It treats its characters as people in a way few novels can—allowing each of them to be fascinating, full-hearted, noble, confused, brave, fumbling, petty, right and wrong by turns, in a way that feels like life.” —Chad Harbach, author of The Art of Fielding
“Two young sisters—one devout and undeniably pregnant, the other full of the devil—left by their God-fearing parents in a remote farmhouse . . . what could possibly go wrong? . . . The Girl Who Slept with God answers that question and others with daring and grace.”—More Magazine
For Fans of Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You and Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, an entrancing literary debut about religion, science, secrets, and the power and burden of family from recent Wallace Stegner Fellow Val Brelinski
Set in Arco, Idaho, in 1970, Val Brelinski’s powerfully affecting first novel tells the story of three sisters: young Frances, gregarious and strong-willed Jory, and moral-minded Grace. Their father, Oren, is a respected member of the community and science professor at the local college. Yet their mother’s depression and Grace’s religious fervor threaten the seemingly perfect family, whose world is upended when Grace returns from a missionary trip to Mexico and discovers she’s pregnant with—she believes—the child of God.
Distraught, Oren sends Jory and Grace to an isolated home at the edge of the town. There, they prepare for the much-awaited arrival of the baby while building a makeshift family that includes an elderly eccentric neighbor and a tattooed social outcast who drives an ice cream truck.
The Girl Who Slept with God is a literary achievement about a family’s desperate need for truth, love, purity, and redemption.
The Girl Who Slept with God: A Novelby Val Brelinski
If the title of this book isn't intriguing enough, I would think the synopsis, or maybe even the lovely cover illustration, would lure a reader in. I know the cover left me wondering what in the world an ice cream truck has to do with God. My sister laughed at the title of this book. But me? I was curious. What was this book all about?
I heard talk of this book on a podcast, and then I read the book and was very happy with how much I enjoyed it. It seemed like it pulled a few ideas from Jesus' birth in the Bible (how could it not?) but otherwise, this book seemed to be a pretty original idea. I liked how the author didn't focus all of her time on writing about the main attraction (obviously, the minor who is pregnant with what she claims is an immaculate conception) but instead varies her story so that we get to hear about the scandal, the love, and the way the younger sister feels at being forced to live alone with her pregnant sister.
We are all educated people here. We know that a girl can't just get pregnant without some help. But fiction is fiction, and anything can happen. I appreciated how Val Brelinski kept this book realistic, even while adding a little bit of mystique. Don't pass this book up for fear of being judged about the title. This book is wonderful, inside and out.
Profanity/Language: 12 religious exclamations; 6 mild obscenities; 1 religious profanity; 1 derogatory name 15 scatological words; 7 anatomical terms; 8 F-Word derivatives.
Violence/Gore: A minor shoves her father; a baby is mentioned to have died; a minor goes missing, said to have run away; a character is found in a dire situation, lapses into a coma, and finally passes.
Sex/Nudity: Premarital relations are mentioned and implied; a minor girl mentions seeing her older sister's breasts; a minor couple is mentioned to have made out; a minor girl finds a crude magazine (porn) with nude women in the pictures; an adult woman strip searches a minor girl; a girl reports she saw a shirtless man, no sexual innuendo; a minor is mentioned to have gotten a girl pregnant; a minor girl is pregnant before marriage; a minor boy forces a kiss on a girl; girls are referred to as lesbians; sexual activity is implied between minors, no detail is given; a minor girl briefly describes her changing body and menstruation; hickeys are mentioned (implied sexual activity); a minor girl kisses an adult man in a sexual way; a character is referred to as "sexy".
Mature Subject Matter:
Death, personal crises, premarital sex.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
A girl takes prescription pills; a minor drinks peppermint schnapps; weed and alcohol are mentioned to be present at a party of minors; a man offers a minor beer; a woman described to smoke.
Reviewed By Lydia