Texas Book Festival Book Club

July 2021

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God Spare the Girls

“Kelsey McKinney’s debut is a timely exploration of the moral contradictions of contemporary Evangelical Christianity. But the accomplishment of this canny novel is in positing coming of age itself as a loss of faith—not only in the church, but in our parents, our family, and the world as we thought we understood it..” —TBF 2018 featured author Rumaan Alam, author of That Kind of Mother and Leave the World Behind 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.God Spare the GirlsGod Spare the GirlsGod Spare the GirlsGod Spare the GirlsGod Spare the GirlsGod Spare the Girls

About the Contributor

Kelsey McKinney is a freelance features writer and cofounder of Defector Media. She previously worked as a staff writer at Vox, Fusion, and Deadspin. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, GQ, Cosmopolitan, and New York magazine, among other publications. Raised Evangelical in north Texas, she now lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and dog. God Spare the Girls is her first novel. Author photo: Emilio Madrid