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.
... 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.
The highlight of McKinney’s authentic narrative is her treatment of relationships, and Caroline and Abigail’s growing connection as the rest of their world threatens to fall apart is at once engaging, witty, and heartbreaking. A loss of faith gives way to something much stronger.