Godshot – Chelsea Bieker – Coming of Age Novel
Godshot – Chelsea Bieker brings readers this coming of age novel. It is the powerful story of a fourteen year old girl, whose mother involved her in a religious cult. God Shot is both realistic and heartbreaking. Lacey is sharp and can think pretty well for herself. She realizes her mother’s drunken behavior is wrong. This is one of those sad times, when the child must become the adult as Lacey tries her best to protect her mother from herself. But, who is protecting Lacey?
Ultimately, Lacey’s mother takes off with a stranger and Lacey is left with her weird grandmother. And while Lacey is a smart girl, she seems to believe obeying the creepy cult leader is a good thing. I cannot even imagine, how confused Lacey must be. After all she is just a young girl coming-of-age without her mother.
Lacey is surrounded by adult cult members, and other children, who regardless of the precarious situation, remain oblivious in their blind obedience. While the “pastor” is busy coming up with “assignments” for his followers to carry out, Lacey is actually excited about, and looking forward to, receiving her assignment. Yet, even in her young innocence, Lacey becomes a guiding light for readers. In spite of her personal circumstances and surroundings, she continues her search for her mother.
Due to the grim subject matter, Godshot was a difficult read for me. If not for Chelsea Bieker’s expertise in dealing with the seriousness of feminist issues, including the oppression and appalling violation of women, I may not have made it through this expertly written story. In Lacey, Bieker created a shining light. That bright beacon of hope, kept me heading towards the light.
Book Description from Publisher
This “fiercely written and endlessly readable” novel of a teenage girl in thrall to a magnetic—and terrifying—preacher who promises to save her dying town is “a godsend” (Entertainment Weekly).
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 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 circumstances.
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.