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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 Concerned With Her Taxidermy Mice 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 Go On A Quest To Find Her Mother, No Matter What It Takes With Her Only Guidance Coming From The Romance Novels She Reads And The Unlikely Companionship Of The Women Who Knew Her Mother, She Must Find Her Own Way Through Unthinkable CircumstancesPossessed 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 I recently finished GODSHOT by Chelsea Bieker out today one week early and all I can say is that the inside is just as dazzling as the mesmerizing cover The story follows fourteen year old Lacey May, a young girl living in Peaches, California a community under the control of cult leader Pastor Vern , and whose alcoholic mother has suddenly abandoned her Ultimately, this story is a beautiful exploration of mother daughter relationships, and all the complexities involved in them As the novel progressed, I loved watching Lacey come into her own and figure out who she is and what she wants in life, separate from her mother s wishes and that of her cult like community She starts off as a naive and gullible teenager, but ends as a determined and confident young woman This book was on my list of most anticipated releases of 2020, and it 100% surpassed my expectations If, like me, your preference in books lies in stories written BY women and ABOUT women, then definitely add this book to your TBR Thank you to Catapult and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review It hurts Get used to it, she said Women have a long history of sufferingHow to describe this book well, it s a book about women and girls About mothers and daughters, and the often difficult relationships between them about what it is to love so deeply a mother who has failed you About religion and the way it can be used to control women s bodies It feels dystopian due to the claustrophobic, stifling feel of the novel, but it s not really.The White Oleander comparison is a good one I also think this might be the kind of thing Elana K Arnold would write if she turned her talents to adult fiction A gritty, ugly, yet oddly empowering tale about girls I m also surprised no one has thought to pull out the ol The Handmaid s Tale comparison The religious zealotry, the single narrow perspective, the control, the idolization of pregnancy and pregnant women I can see the parallels Though the main difference here is that they didn t have to overthrow an entire system and install a new government It was simply the use of fear that got people to believe a charlatan was a messiah The book is set in the fictional town of Peaches, California, which is experiencing a devastating drought The lush greenery of the past has been replaced by cracked earth, and the local residents, in their desperation, turn to Pastor Vern to guide them away from sin and towards a new world one where God rewards their faith with water To do this, they are given assignments, but they are warned not to speak of their assignments with one another I don t know why I loved her the way I did, in this aching way that could not be explained, other than she was my mother There was no reason beyond that. Lacey May s mother is everything to her her whole world So when she is exiled from the church, Lacey May cannot understand why she abandons her completely and runs away with a man What follows is Lacey May s search for her mother and her search for the truth about the community in which she lives When she is given her own assignment, the story takes a dark turn.It s a bildungsroman of sorts Lacey May is an extremely sympathetic character naive in a lot of ways but without being irritatingly so plus smart and resourceful in others Her mother is a very complex woman I spent the whole book stuck halfway between pity for her and anger at her selfishness This is intentional, I feel The author wants us to have the complicated relationship with her that Lacey May has For nothing could take away who my mother and I had been when we had loved each other, when we d driven the town, heads back screaming along to her favorite songs, the way she looked so melancholy and how she d rested her chin on my head while we slow danced in the living room to Tears in HeavenBeyond this, it is quite hard to explain all that the book does Godshot takes on so many themes relating to girlhood and growing up and religion One thing I love is when authors figure out how to tell old stories in this case, about a difficult mother daughter relationship in new, creative ways.Whether it is about love for a mother who doesn t deserve it, or love for a religion that is a lie, at its heart, it feels like this book is about how growing up and changing can mean opening your eyes and losing faith in the false gods you ve always believed in It s about looking back over everything that has happened to you and being able to reevaluate it through new eyes And, I guess, it s a bittersweet story about letting go.Facebook Instagram Take a deep breath before you begin reading this dark, dazzling and deliciously entrancing novel, for it won t be long before you ll holding your breath in anticipation of what lies waiting in Peaches, California for youTo have an assignment, Pastor Vern said, you had to be a woman of blood You had to be a man of deep voice and Adam s apple And you should never reveal your assignment to another soul, for assignments were a holy bargaining between you and your pastor and God Himself To speak of them directly would be to mar God s voice, turn the supernatural human, and ruin it So not even my own mother could tell me what her assignment was that unseasonably warm winter, wouldn t tell me months into it when spring lifted up dry heat around us, and everything twisted and changed forever I imagined her floating above our beloved town of Peaches, dropping God glitter over us like an angel, summoning the rain to cure our droughted fields I imagined all these things with a burn of jealousy, for I had not received my woman s blessing yet, the rush of blood between my legs that would signify me as useful I d just turned fourteen but was still a board chested child in the eyes of God and Pastor Vern, and so I prayed day and night for the blood to come to me in a river, to flood the bed I shared with my mother Then I would be ready I could have an assignment too If you took the real story that made headline news in 2008 of Warren Jeffs and his YFZ Ranch and scaled it down in size, and then shared the story through the eyes of one of those young women, and you blended it with a dash of the young women in Emma Cline s Girls, you d come close to an idea of this, but throw in the unceasing drought, this community s lack of water leading to baptism by immersion in cola, along with the community s desperation building Add young, vulnerable, Lacey May, whose mother has just been driven out of the Gifts of the Spirit Church as your narrator in this coming of age debut novel, and you ve got Godshot.Of course there s to this story, but you ll want to experience this story yourself, a story with themes of extremist religions, socially constructed gender inequality, and a bit about the current and future state of the environment In a year so relatively new, I am amazed by how many extremely gifted debut authors works I ve read This is another one you won t forget.Pub Date 17 Apr 2020Many thanks for the ARC provided by Catapult This is a perfect novel From my blurb on the cover, which I mean with my full heart Chelsea Bieker s Godshot is an absolute masterpiece A truly epic journey through girlhood, divinity, and the blood that binds and divides us, it is a feminist magnum opus of this, or any, time Bieker is a pitch perfect ventriloquist of extraordinary talent and ferocity 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 GET ON IT.