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The Girl Who Slept with God: A Novel

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,903 ratings  ·  385 reviews
“Fine, carefully wrought . . . reading this novel [is] a heartening experience.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Brelinski’s page-turning debut is full of humor, insight, and imaginative sympathy. Think of it as the annunciation of a new talent.” The Wall Street Journal

“A revelation.” —Vanity Fair

“[Brelinski] had readers hooked from page 1.” —Elle

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Published August 4th 2015 by Penguin Audio (first published July 28th 2015)
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Diane Doesn't the author hint,toward the end of the book, that possibly the father had sex with her? The conversation between Grip and Jory after he gets ou…moreDoesn't the author hint,toward the end of the book, that possibly the father had sex with her? The conversation between Grip and Jory after he gets out of jail... Unlikely I know but I wonder- was she pregnant when she went?(less)
Max Ha! Not quite, but maybe you're thinking of Elizabeth Kaye's book "Sleeping with Famous Men"?…moreHa! Not quite, but maybe you're thinking of Elizabeth Kaye's book "Sleeping with Famous Men"?(less)
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
The story centers around a super religious family named the Duggarrs the Quanbeck's. The oldest daughter Grace gets to go on a mission trip to Mexico. When she returns she carries with her a little something extra from her trip.
Grace is pregnant. She swears that an Angel came to her and that she is carrying a holy child.

Chicago commercial photographers

This family is the type of family that an unwed mother is just not going to fly. What will the neighbors think?
There was to be no mixed bathing, no circuses or bowling alley
Reading Road Trip 2020

Current location: Idaho

Well, what a happy accident this was.

I set out to read a different book for my “Idaho” entry, hated it, quickly abandoned it, then raced to find an adequate substitute as I'm running out of time on my American reading project.

You'd have thought the obvious replacement would have been Emily Ruskovich's debut novel, Idaho, but I went instead with the lesser known debut novel, The Girl Who Slept with God.

The author, Val Brelinski, was born and raised in
Angela M
3.5 stars

I take exception to the part in the description of this book that calls this a "seemingly perfect family." This family seemed to me anything but perfect from page one . I have recently read some books about dysfunctional families with questionable parenting . Among them The Children's Crusade and Everything I Never Told You . This is right up there with them in depicting the damage that parents can do to their children.

The beliefs and lifestyle of this fundamentalist Christian family a
That striking title sets the scene for an out-of-the-ordinary coming-of-age novel set in a fundamentalist Christian family in Arco, Idaho in 1970. The Quanbecks renounce dancing, movies, alcohol and everything else that represents regular teenage life for thirteen-year-old Jory. She and her sisters are sheltered from the world within their church and Christian school. That sense of being set apart only grows stronger when seventeen-year-old Grace comes back pregnant from a short mission trip to ...more
Aug 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is why i read. Because sometimes, some sweet, delicious times, a book like this falls in your lap and you never want it to end but you can’t put it down because you are learning and loving it so that it ends the next day. The folks on the plane think you’re unhinged as you laugh out loud (they turn the volume up on their tiny headsets, hoping they’re sending you a polite message) but no, ten pages later you’re crying, sobbing, wiping your nose on your sleeve, because you know that we know n ...more
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
I really enjoyed this novel because it tells a story of being raised by devout evangelical Christians. The author, Val Brelinski, says in an interview that much of the family drama that takes place in this novel is a fairly autobiographical which lends reality to this work of fiction. I tend to gravitate towards novels that provide me with enlightenment to lives/worlds to which I have been ignorant.

In this novel, it’s told from the perspective of Jory, the middle daughter of a devout evangelical
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaway-wins
NOTE: I won this book in a GR Giveaway in return for an honest review.

First the good:
This is an easy reading story with a likeable character. There's enough mystery to keep one reading and interested.
Now for the bad:
This is a YA book in hiding. The scenes and dialogues are Jr High and are mundane, boring and nothing to do with the larger storyline.
The family in this book is nuts. The actions of the parents are bizarre. There's the usual drugs & booze....but what does one expect when one leaves
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2015
The Girl Who Slept with God is beautiful story about the Quanbecks, a Christian family torn apart when Grace, the eldest daughter, returns from a missionary trip to Mexico impregnated by an “angel.” The father, an astronomer at the local college, decides the best thing to do is send 17-year-old Grace and her 14-year-old sister, Jory, to live alone on a farm with an elderly neighbor looking in on them, while he stays at home with his youngest daughter and his tranquilizer-taking wife to keep up a ...more
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won this through the First Reads giveaway.

This was a very good book, better than I anticipated. The characters are complex and believable. For example, I think Grip would usually be written up as straight up creepy, but he wasn't. You were kind of attracted to his character like Jory was. The novel did a good job at making me understand (even if I didn't approve) what the father did. It was also successful at portraying what it's like to have a depressed mother.

I also really liked how food and
Brittany (UnderTheRadarBooks)
Written with beautiful imagery, this book is a haunting portrayal of one family's struggle with religion, faith and tragedy. ...more
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
The author has told a tale with such finely developed characters and details that it is like unwrapping onion skin to find the core of the novel. The book takes place in 1970 in rural Idaho, but the family at the center of the story is really existing out of their time, since 1970 was a time of great upheaval and change, even in rural Idaho. The family in question still maintains a bomb shelter, lives a very sheltered conservative religious life that prevents most modern entertainment or interac ...more
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, fiction
This book was highly reminiscent of The Virgin Suicides for me, calling to mind that kind of lazily oppressive heat that seems to settle over novels set in the early 1970s. The story of Jory and her sister Grace, the part of this book that originally perked my interest (Grace is pregnant and swears, as a Holy Roller, that it's by the hand of God) played quite a small role in the book, overall. Once Grace returns from her mission trip to Mexico and offers up the explanation, the book becomes less ...more
Kelsey Myers
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-d-up-book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie Timmer
Jul 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this novel and I devoured it in two days, only putting it down for work, which I began to resent for interfering with my reading.

What a fantastic book! The characters are all beautifully flawed, the story is unique and Val Brelinski's writing is that perfect blend of gorgeous and spare, never getting in the way. I particularly loved the main character, Jory, whose voice is fresh and honest.

This book has shot directly to the top of my favorites for 2015 a
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meatier than I expected. The story focuses more on 'moral-minded' Grace and her sister Jory who are both sent away in shame when Grace returns from a missionary trip in Mexico pregnant. What is even more shocking is Grace's claim that she is pregnant with God's child. Oren, their religously strict father, is an upstanding science professor who doesn't want the family's secret aired for all to see. The solution is to send Jory to help care for her sister Grace away from neighbors- but will this d ...more
May 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my Book Club pick for August.

Wow. What a great book. So much symbolism and underlying themes in this one. When Grace returns home from a mission trip to Mexico carrying God's child, her parents, I believe, literally had no idea how to handle the situation. They send Grace and her younger sister, Jory, to live in a farm house in the middle of nowhere, Idaho. Being the middle child, Jory struggles with trying to please her parents while being her own person. This is truly a coming of age
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
A very good coming of age story taking place in 1970. Jory's sister Grace is fervently religious, so much so that even her parents are afraid of her. When Grace is 17, she fulfills her lifelong dream of going on a mission. She leaves for a mission in Mexico, but comes back a short time later, pregnant and insistent that she is carrying God's child -that this is God's will and his plan for her.

Her father moves Grace and Jory away to a house far from their own, leaving the two girls to take care
Jul 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copies
**I received an ARC from the publishers via Goodreads Giveaways.**


This book affected me in a very profound way. It reminded me of what it was like to be 13 again, naive and selfish in all the worst ways. This book focuses on family, faith, and the understanding and acceptance of the world and people around you. The first 200 pages of this book was a very solid 4 stars, but the last 150 pages or so really picked up and I could feel myself aching alongside 13 year old Jory. Her emotions are w
What a compelling story about a fascinating group of people! In truth, this is a coming of age story but it's so much more. It's about identity, religiosity, finding a family of your own, science vs. religious doctrine and MORE. This novel was so much more than I expected it to be. The basic premise is that it explores the experiences of a fundamental Christian family in the 1970s. One of the daughters who is extremely devout returns from a mission trip pregnant and insists it's God's baby. This ...more
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, 2015-reads
This book captured my interest from the beginning and held it all the way to the end. I really cared about Jory and wanted to know what would happen to her. It was hard to watch her struggle to make her way despite the lack of care from her parents, and the constant admonitions of her older sister, Grace. I loved the character of Mrs. Klinefelter who stepped in to help Grace and Jory and was a sane, stable influence in their lives. Throughout the book, I held more sympathy for one of Jory's pare ...more
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as an advanced readers edition through Penguin's First Read program. Thank you Penguin.

What amazing character development. a story of growing up, learning about the world, questioning beliefs held all your life, mental health issues, and the power of family love. I couldn't put this book down because every time I did I just wanted to continue reading to find out what happens next to the characters.

I love the strength of Jory and seeing her grow throughout the story. She s
Joanne Garbato
Jul 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Girl Who Slept with God is a great debut by Val Brelinski. It is a heartrending story of a strict evangelical Christian family. 17 year old Grace,the eldest of 3 daughters,returns home from mission work in Mexico and is pregnant. She is sent to live in a house on the outskirts of town so no one will know and their reputations won't be tarnished. 13 year old Jory is also sent away to take care of her sister. Jory must also attend public school instead of the Christian school she is accustomed ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: give-aways
I won this book from First read and loved it.

The characters are wonderfully flawed. Most the story is told through the eyes of 14 year old Jory, an honest curious teen. Her 17 year old sister Grace comes home from a Christian mission in Mexico pregnant telling the family it happened by an angel of God. This event tears a part this Christian family leading the father to exile the two teen daughters to another house. Jory meets new people in the new neighborhood that left me turning pages to find
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. Everything about this was so compelling. The characters are so interesting and well drawn, the issues they are wrestling with are realistically and movingly depicted, the setting is so perfectly captured that you feel like you live among these characters.

I am always interested in books that deal with religious faith, particularly evangelical Christianity, in a smart way and this book delivers in spades. It is a great illustration of the appeal of religious fundamentalism as well a
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jory's brought up in a very strict, Christian home. When her sister returns from a mission in Mexico, and it is discovered she is pregnant, it is quite unexpected! Her sister, Grace, claims that it is God's baby! Awesome character development. All around enjoyable book! ...more
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an astonishing story that shows (doesn't tell) how fundamental, evangelical Christian religiosity can go awry when people choose a system of belief over others. Heartbreakingly good. ...more
Jan 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
So much more than your typical coming of age tale. I will be thinking about this one for some time.
Mar 24, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I could give this negative stars I would. One of the worst books I've ever read. ...more
Carla A
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good enough, and a little deranged.
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Val Brelinski was born and raised in Nampa, Idaho, the daughter of devout evangelical Christians. She is a recent Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, where she was also a Jones Lecturer in fiction writing. She received an MFA from the University of Virginia, and her writing has been published in such magazines as VQR, and The Rumpus, Fiction, Confrontation, and Green Mountains Review. She received ...more

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