Bookish Kicks Off 2016 with Val Brelinski’s The Girl Who Slept with God

By Melinda Guerra

girlI spent the formative years of my life in an evangelical church just south of the Chicago city limit.  In a tiny room in its basement, I accepted Jesus into my heart because I didn’t want to burn in hell for eternity, and in various rooms of the school-building-turned-church, I committed passages of the Bible to memory and argued theology with older kids.  In its sanctuary, I cried and prayed and laughed and passed notes and asked for money and shared pictures and stories from my mission trips; in its offices, I gleefully shared my acceptance into a Bible College; in its balcony, I hid and grappled with my loss of faith in the years following that education.  I know what it is for faith to be everything in the world, and I know what it is to be terrifyingly left without the system which had once shaped everything.

I knew the premise of Val Brelinski’s The Girl Who Slept with God before I picked it up, and I expected the story to maybe raise some nostalgia, as books which deal with faith and post-faith issues often do for me. But more than that, I often flushed as I read, seeing traces of myself and my friends in its pages.

David reviewed the book for Fourth & Sycamore months ago, writing:

“As we follow Jory through the months that follow Grace’s announcement, through her father’s well-intentioned but hurtful attempts to keep the family from embarrassment and harm, through the risky new relationships Jory develops as she tries to cope with responsibilities well beyond her maturity level, we understand quickly how broken the family was from the very beginning. The demands of fundamentalism cause a family’s roots and trunks to twist and contort. This is a thing I know something about.”

His review led me to pick up the book for myself and, ultimately, choose it as the first read of the year for Bookish.  Read his full review here, and if we’ve convinced you to pick up the book, consider joining Bookish on January 25th for our discussion of The Girl Who Slept with God.  For more details and to reserve your space, email me at gplbookclub [at]

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