“Fiercely written and endlessly readable, a novel like this is a godsend.” -Entertainment Weekly
For fans of Janet Fitch’s White Oleander and Emma Cline’s The Girls, a dazzling literary debut by Rona Jaffe Award winner Chelsea Bieker about one teenage girl’s feminist awakening and her search for her missing mother.
A finalist for the Oregon Book Award, and longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize.
An NPR Best Book of 2020, An Oprah Magazine’s “Most Anticipated Book of 2020”, A Vulture’s “Best New Book for 2020”, A Buzzfeed “Most Highly Anticipated Book” A Bustle “Must Read Book of 2020“, A Paste Magazine’s “Most Anticipated Novel”, An Electric Literature’s “Most Anticipated Debut of 2020“, The Rumpus Editor Pick for 2020, Library Journal’s Title to Watch, SF Chronicle “Book to Look Out For”
“Chelsea Bieker’s Godshot is an absolute masterpiece. A truly epic journey through girlhood, divinity, and the blood that binds and divides us, it is a feminist magnum opus of this, or any, time. Bieker is a pitch-perfect ventriloquist of extraordinary talent and ferocity. Imagine if Annie Proulx wrote something like White Oleander crossed with Geek Love or Cruddy, and then add cults, God, motherhood, girlhood, class, deserts, witches, the divinity of women . . . Terrifying, resplendent, and profoundly moving, this book will leave you changed.” –T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
“Godshot is wise, tough, electrifying, beautiful―every raw detail sings true. Chelsea Bieker writes about pain and resilience like nobody else.” ―Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks
“I cried as I finished reading Godshot. It’s a novel of rebirth: baptism and heartbreak, daughterhood and motherhood. Lacey May is a yearning, whip-smart, brokenhearted believer, and I miss her now that the novel has ended. Chelsea Bieker has written a wholly real and beautifully written coming-of-age tale that is sure to be an instant classic.” ―Lindsay Hunter, author of Eat Only When You’re Hungry
“Godshot is the kind of book you find yourself thinking about incessantly. By turns desolate and rich, Chelsea Bieker has written a novel that lets a parched tongue find relief in its pages. It is a book about the kind of salvation we can find in other people, but also about the miracle of finding that kind of all-consuming love inside ourselves. It is tenderness and trauma. It is violence. It’s sorting through the mess, looking for answers. Bieker is a dynamo and Godshot is a beautiful blow to the heart.” –Kristen Arnett, author of New York Times Bestselling novel, Mostly Dead Things
“GODSHOT is a dazzling, darkly funny debut from a writer whose charm, wit, and blistering intelligence will scorch your heart. With unsentimental compassion and unprecedented style, Bieker steeps this brutal, harrowing story in hope. The prose shimmers and swerves–so full of gritty truths and resplendent beauty, I drenched every page in highlighter.”–Kimberly King Parsons, author of Black Light
“A dark, deft first novel about the trauma and resilience of both people and the land they inhabit.“ – Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“Delving into patriarchal religious zealotry, Bieker’s excellent debut plants themes seen in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale into a realistic California setting that will linger with readers.” -Publisher’s Weekly
“Bieker’s debut novel is a vivid and cutting exploration of unconditional female love. It observes how mothers shape daughters, biological or otherwise, and how daughters must ultimately learn to mother themselves.” -Booklist (Starred Review)
“Lacey May’s is an irresistible voice, part gullible believer, part whip-smart independent spirit who surprises at every turn. Debut novelist Bieker weaves in the political battles being fought on multiple fronts.” -Library Journal (Starred Review)
Drought has settled on the town of Peaches, California. The area of the Central Valley where fourteen-year-old Lacey May and her alcoholic mother live was once an agricultural paradise. Now it’s an environmental disaster, a place of cracked earth and barren raisin farms. In their desperation, residents have turned to a cult leader named Pastor Vern for guidance. He promises, through secret “assignments,” to bring the rain everybody is praying for.
Lacey has no reason to doubt the pastor. But then her life explodes in a single unimaginable act of abandonment: her mother, exiled from the community for her sins, leaves Lacey and runs off with a man she barely knows. Abandoned and distraught, Lacey May moves in with her widowed grandma, Cherry, who is more concerned with her taxidermy mice collection than her own granddaughter. As Lacey May endures the increasingly appalling acts of men who want to write all the rules, and begins to uncover the full extent of Pastor Vern’s shocking plan to bring fertility back to the land, she decides she must go on a quest to find her mother no matter what it takes. With her only guidance coming from the romance novels she reads and the unlikely companionship of the women who knew her mother, she must find her own way through unthinkable circumstances.
Possessed of an unstoppable plot and a brilliantly soulful voice, Godshot is a book of grit and humor and heart, a debut novel about female friendship and resilience, mother-loss and motherhood, and seeking salvation in unexpected places. It introduces a writer who gives Flannery O’Connor’s Gothic parables a Californian twist and who emerges with a miracle that is all her own.