In this debut, a megachurch pastor is revealed to have been living a double life that goes against his puritanical teachings. Embarrassed and outraged, his two dutiful daughters—one just weeks away from her wedding—hit the road, where they wrestle with family bonds and which ones are worth protecting.
McKinney is a strong and compelling storyteller and has crafted a captivating small town world full of gossip and intrigue. God Spare the Girls beautifully explores the challenges of young womanhood in the context of a religion that has its own very strict ideas about what it means to be a good daughter, sister, and wife ... Above all else, God Spare the Girls is a touching and powerful story of a bond between two sisters navigating a world and life they never chose. It is a beautifully rendered spin on classic coming-of-age tales, with the characters navigating intricate layers of relationships with themselves, with each other and with their faith.
... a compelling and beautifully written tale, a book that captures the hubris and hypocrisy that can come from institutionalized faith while also finding ways to acknowledge the value that such circumstances can bring. Delicately heartwrenching, driven by sad realizations and quiet humor, it’s an unforgettable read ... this is a good book. A REALLY good book. It would be a notable achievement for any writer, let alone a debut novelist ... There’s a remarkable sense of place here, a blend of writ-large ideas and intimate details that adds up to an evocative encapsulation of the setting. Ever read a book where the prose was so engrossing that you didn’t just intellectually, but viscerally experience the environment? Seriously – McKinney will straight-up make you sweat ... and just so we’re clear – it’s also a hell of a story. I can talk about craft and character until the cows come home, but all of that is in service to a narrative that is thoughtful and clever and engrossing as hell. It’s a cliché to call a book a page-turner, but I’d be remiss if I failed to address just how readable God Spare the Girls is. Almost compulsively so – McKinney grabs hold of you almost immediately and refuses to let go, drawing you into the story, tempting and challenging and generally doing all the things good writers do ... an exceptional piece of fiction, sad and smart and driven by an overarching verisimilitude. What McKinney has created feels like a real place with real people, all while sharing their stories of faith gained or lost or somewhere in-between. Believing matters – but what often matters more is that (or those) in which (or whom) we choose to believe.
... lush descriptions and occasionally purple prose ... The aesthetic of God Spare the Girls is, in short, delightful. It’s Christian Girl Autumn—the social media sensation that captured the particular fashion (big scarves, tall boots, simple jeans) of well-off white women, a satirical response to Hot Girl Summer, the phenom popularized by fans of Megan Thee Stallion—meets televangelist and TV personality Joel Osteen, a surprisingly distinct Texas subculture ... In addition to biblical and Shakespearean parallels, the novel is packed with skillful nods to other writers. The most obvious influence is John Steinbeck ... One could also make a parallel to writer Anne Carson’s work ... Her poems on the nature of divinity are melancholic and feminist, similar to McKinney’s work ... If McKinney’s metaphors are occasionally obvious, I don’t mind.