This was the weirdest fucking book. I… kind of liked it? I was originally drawn to it because it takes place in Arco, Idaho and I have family who live there, so I thought it’d be interesting to read a story set in their little town of 910 people. Except The Girl Who Slept With God takes place in some alternate universe Arco where there are enough people to have two high schools and a University. I don’t even know. I realize this is not going to be a sticking point for most readers, but why even bother setting in Arco if you’re just going to make it all up anyway. It’s confusing.
The main character of this book is 14-year-old Jory, who, along with her family, is part of a very conservative evangelical church in the 1970s. Her older sister Grace is especially adamant about her beliefs and keeps the rest of the family in line with her quest for religious perfection. But when Grace comes back from a missionary trip to Mexico pregnant, no one in the family knows what to do. Grace deals with it by claiming an angel impregnated her with the child of God, their mother deals with it by taking pills, and their father decides to set Jory and Grace up in a shack across town and withdraw them from their private Christian school. Throw in a creepy twenty-something ice cream truck driver and their new elderly neighbor and you have the makings of a strange book.
It might have been a weird read, but it wasn’t completely unenjoyable. Brelinski is a great writer with enviable skill and the children are all really wonderful characters. My main issue was with the adults. Except for one, they’re all the worst. Terrible people making terrible decisions. I’d definitely call child services on them if they were real. Luckily Brelinski pulled off an ending I liked. It couldn’t have been easy tying all the weirdness together to create a satisfying, believable ending.