When an eccentric evangelist arrives in the parched city of Peaches, California, with promises of rain and salvation, the locals are quick to form a flock. But soon one of the devout goes missing; the secret “assignments” Pastor Vern demands of his parishioners come into focus; and 14-year-old Lacey May discovers there are things more worrisome than drought. Godshot is a cancel-your-plans/forget-to-eat/fail-to-notice-it’s-nighttime-till-you-glance-out-the-window-and-the-sun’s-gone-down kind of book. A fervent, layered debut that made me thirsty for whatever else Chelsea Bieker has in store. Recommended By Tove H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"Imagine if Annie Proulx wrote something like White Oleander crossed with Geek Love or Cruddy, and then add cults, God, motherhood, girlhood, class, deserts, witches, the divinity of women... Terrifying, resplendent, and profoundly moving, this book will leave you changed." T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
Drought has settled on the town of Peaches, California. The area of the Central Valley where fourteen-year-old Lacey May and her alcoholic mother live was once an agricultural paradise. Now it's an environmental disaster, a place of cracked earth and barren raisin farms. In their desperation, residents have turned to a cult leader named Pastor Vern for guidance. He promises, through secret assignments, to bring the rain everybody is praying for.
Lacey has no reason to doubt the pastor. But then her life explodes in a single unimaginable act of abandonment: her mother, exiled from the community for her sins, leaves Lacey and runs off with a man she barely knows. Abandoned and distraught, Lacey May moves in with her widowed grandma, Cherry, who is more concerned with her taxidermy mouse collection than her own granddaughter. As Lacey May endures the increasingly appalling acts of men who want to write all the rules and begins to uncover the full extent of Pastor Vern's shocking plan to bring fertility back to the land, she decides she must find her mother no matter what it takes.
Possessed of an unstoppable plot and a brilliantly soulful voice, Godshot is a book of grit and humor and heart, a debut novel about female friendship and resilience, mother-loss and motherhood, and seeking salvation in unexpected places. It introduces a writer who gives Flannery O'Connor's Gothic parables a Californian twist and who emerges with a miracle that is all her own.
"A spectacular novel... What follows is a gritty, gripping tale of girlhood, spirituality, and how salvation comes from the unlikeliest of places." Esquire, A Best Book of the Year
"Surreal... Godshot culminates in a dizzying depiction of childbirth — a true holy rite that instantly reveals the falseness of the rest." The Wall Street Journal
"Try not to get excited about a book that's described as Flannery O'Connor's Gothic parables cut with a California twist." San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Chelsea Bieker is from California's Central Valley. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writer's Foundation Award and her fiction and essays have been published in Granta, McSweeney's, Catapult magazine, Electric Literature, and Joyland, among other publications. She was awarded a MacDowell Colony fellowship and holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University. Godshot is her first novel.