Summary (from the publisher): A mesmerizing debut novel set in northern Texas about two sisters who discover a dark secret about their father, the head pastor of an evangelical megachurch, that upends their lives and community—a coming-of-age story of family, identity, and the delicate line between faith and deception.
Luke Nolan has led The Hope congregation for over a decade, while his wife and daughters patiently uphold what it means to live righteously. Made famous by a viral sermon on purity co-written with his eldest daughter, Abigail, Luke is the prototype of a modern preacher: tall, handsome, a spellbinding speaker. But his youngest daughter Caroline has started to notice the cracks in their comfortable life. She is certain that her perfect, pristine sister is about to marry the wrong man—and Caroline has slid into sin with a boy she’s known her entire life, wondering why God would care so much about her virginity anyway.
When it comes to light, six weeks before Abigail’s wedding, that Luke has been having an affair with another woman, the entire Nolan family falls into a tailspin. Caroline seizes the opportunity to be alone with her sister. The two girls flee to the ranch they inherited from their maternal grandmother, far removed from the embarrassing drama of their parents and the prying eyes of the community. But with the date of Abigail’s wedding fast approaching, the sisters will have to make a hard decision about which familial bonds are worth protecting.
An intimate coming-of-age story and a modern woman’s read, God Spare the Girls lays bare the rabid love of sisterhood and asks what we owe our communities, our families, and ourselves.
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
God Spare the Girls was one of my most anticipated summer 2021 releases, especially since I really enjoy books about religion & faith and what happens when someone questions what they’ve grown up with. I really enjoyed Meghan MacLean Weir’s The Book of Essie a few years ago and I am SO highly anticipating Erin Hahn’s upcoming release, Never Saw You Coming. God Spare the Girls is told in a somewhat similar vein to The Book of Essie, as God Spare the Girls follows the daughters, Caroline & Abigail, of a megachurch pastor who is known for his sermons and stance on purity. When their father is caught in an affair, Caroline and Abigail escape to their family’s ranch to hide away from the talk of the church community and reconcile with the scandal and their religious beliefs. Abigail is about to be married and is the unofficial mascot of their church, having co-written many of her father’s sermons, while Caroline doesn’t know what her role is in the church and their family and has been sneaking around with a boy.
God Spare the Girls is a coming-of-age story set against faith. While Abigail is very much a woman of the church and has fulfilled all expectations as the daughter of a pastor, Caroline wants out of their small Texan community and questions the guidelines they’ve been raised with. Although I overall liked reading God Spare the Girls, I have to admit that I thought this book was going to be much more scandalous and I was ultimately disappointed with the ending.
Maybe blame it on my misreading of the hype and early reviews, but I thought that Abigail was going to reveal early on that she was pregnant before getting married or even thought that Caroline had a much more scandalous secret of her own other than seeing a guy from their church. The book more so follows the sisters’ decision to momentarily separate from their parents to process their father’s scandal while also trying to repair their own sister dynamics. There are so mini reveals about the extent of their father’s affair throughout, but nothing really shocked me and Abigail and Caroline didn’t have too many secrets of their own.
Overall, if you like faith-based stories with coming-of-age tropes, I recommend picking up God Spare the Girls, but the book has a much more PG feel than I was expecting based on the synopsis. I didn’t mind the religious and faith based discussions and I liked reading the girls’ interpretations and questioning of some beliefs they had been taught, but I was expecting much more rebellion from at least even Caroline. The book ended on a quieter note, which I guess left readers to imagine the girls’ future, but I wanted more for both of them, especially Abigail.
This review is based on a review copy provided by the publisher through a Goodreads giveaway. By no means did receiving this review copy affect my thoughts & opinions.
Have you read God Spare the Girls or any books like it? Share in the comments!