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Godshot

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4.32  ·  Rating details ·  77 ratings  ·  47 reviews
"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 ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Expected publication: April 7th 2020 by Catapult
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Average rating 4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  77 ratings  ·  47 reviews


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Paris (parisperusing)
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of cult stories with a hard bite of feminism
Shelves: arc, debuts, 2020
"Whatever's happened to you can either make you beautiful, or it will ruin you forever. You decide. … I mean, beautiful. I mean, deep and changed. Affected. Wise. When you see a woman like that, you know. She's beautiful because of her undoing. Beautiful because she rebirthed herself from ashes."

Chelsea Bieker’s Godshot is a dynamite of a debut novel about the true grit of girlhood under the long arm of religion and patriarchy. The story dawns in the drought-stricken town of Peaches, California,
...more
T Madden
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a perfect novel. From my blurb on the cover, which I mean with my full heart: "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, ...more
Sarah
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Updated, actual review 1/18/20:

I received an ARC from the publisher, opinions are my own.

This book is so surprising on so many levels. It's about a teenage girl named Lacey May who lives in a drought-ravaged town called Peaches in California's central valley. A good chunk of the town is under the spell of a glitter-loving pastor named Vern, who uses the permeating scarcity of resources and desperation of people whose agricultural identity has withered to gain power for himself through the
...more
Geonn Cannon
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is well written, and I liked the flawed and well-rounded characters, but I'm to the point where I cringe when I see a book described as "feminist" simply because of how often that translates to "terrible things happen to women, and they might have a few victories and eventually get to show their strength, but mostly it's just a series of bad things happening to them over and over." I'm clearly in the minority here based on the other reviews, but it's like the Lifetime Movie paradox. ...more
Jonathan
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“The loneliness of a monster can only become sentimental after it is dead”
.
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker is a tightrope walk of a novel, with each chapter you slowly step further from normality and the madness takes over. No safety net can save you from falling for this intoxicating debut that is more than just a coming of age story for one young girl, it’s a journey into life, a breaking free of everything once known and trusted. Written with prose that suffocates and beautiful unsettling scenes
...more
Anne
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm not even sure what to say about this heart-wrenching debut! It's taken me days to collect my thoughts. When Lacey May's alcoholic mother leaves her for a stranger who promises to make her a star, fourteen-year-old Lacey goes to live with her eccentric grandmother Cherry who is obsessed with dressing her collection of rodents. Peaches, California is experiencing a drought, but fortunately Pastor Vern has guaranteed his congregation that he can produce rain as long as they follow his orders. ...more
Rachel (rachandbooks)
This is one of the most well-written books I’ve ever read, and also one of the hardest books I’ve read. Full review to come! 4.5 stars
Kimberly Parsons
Oct 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Holy hell, this book! 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, Chelsea 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.
Catapult
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For fans of Janet Fitch’s White Oleander and Emma Cline’s The Girls, Godshot is 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. Forthcoming April 7, 2020!
Elizabeth ✨
Godshot is stunning. It's gritty and bleak and beautiful and glittering. It broke me down and filled me back up with hope. Set in Peaches, a small town in the parched Central Valley of California, this novel takes us through a tumultuous season of fourteen-year-old Lacy May Herd's already rugged life. The trauma she experiences, from men abusing their power and women who are complicit, is heartbreaking. But the author doesn't just tell us a story of sexual abuse, religious brainwashing, a ...more
Brenda Scanzillo
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I haven’t read a book I liked as much as Godshot in a long time. Chelsea Bieker’s debut novel lays bare the desperation of a once-thriving California valley town in the time of climate change, where people would do anything - and believe anything - it takes to be delivered from the drought. Enter Pastor Verne, a charismatic leader who presides over the Gifts of the Spirit congregation, promising that if they stick to their assignments and don’t question his divinity, he will perform a miracle ...more
Anna
Jan 05, 2020 marked it as to-read
UPDATE 1/21/2020

MY REQUEST WAS APPROVED AT EDELWEISS. I repeat, THIS IS NOT A DRILL, I WAS APPROVED!!!

Original Thoughts, Jan 2020
One of my most anticipated reads of 2020! The
synopsis compares it to "White Oleander." Oh God, please let it be true!
...more
Jennifer R
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I read this book every little chance I got--on the train to work, in between classes, in the last few minutes before sleep overtook me--and I regret it. Because Godshot deserves to be sat down and read through seriously, attentively, with care. This is a sit-by-the-fireplace-on-your-day-off-and-read kind of book.

In Bieker's layered debut novel, drought has descended once again on the town of Peaches, California. Fourteen-year-old Lacey May must come to terms with the disappearance of her mother
...more
Debutiful
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: debut-2020
The cover of this novel is perfect. So are the pages in between. Bieker wrote an unflinching journey of girlhood, religious cults, and feminism. At the center is a girl and hew mother who, facing a climate disaster, find solace in a pastor’s community. Every page contains a raw reflection of our society and how women are treated, the appalling acts of men, and why we may all be doomed unless we do something about our damning actions. Combining brutal honesty and gritty humor, the novel is an ...more
Aja Gabel
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every word of this novel is searing and unflinching. It’s about a California that isn’t often depicted—the sun drenched and drought-rotted Central Valley. A place where faith falters and cults thrive. An exploration of the line between desire and belief, and the line between love and hate, this novel manages to be both brutal and beautiful. A real achievement.
Leah
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: from-our-clients
Still thinking about this book and its themes - motherhood, childhood, religion - long after I’ve finished reading.
Nancy
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
What I was reading repulsed me but I could not put down Chelsea Bieker's debut novel Godshot. Lacey's narrative voice drew me in, her conflicted nativity and faith struggling to survive as her family and community fails to protect her. The novel reaches into the deepest questions of life and illustrates the limitations of love and faith.

The tragic series of events and abuse endured will be hard for some to follow; this is a dark story. But just when it seems that Lacey has lost everything,
...more
Emily
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
We aren't ready for this book. In a way, I am mad at this book because Bieker essentially hit on all the topics I've been striving for years to unravel in my own novel, and she does it so expertly that it almost makes me think I should quit. But that is a compliment to her and to Godshot, because holy wow. I don't want to give too much away about this book, but I guess I will say that if the glittery cover and provocative title isn't enough to snag you, then maybe a story about eco-apocalypse, ...more
Genevieve Hudson
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Devastating. Masterful. Unlike anything you've ever read. More detailed review TK.
Rachel
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I am absolutely stunned and impressed after reading this amazing gem. I literally feel as if I was transported to the desolate dustbin of a wasteland of Peaches, California myself. The author’s ability to describe the desperation and hopelessness that swallowed that valley whole was oppressive and overwhelming. I almost thought I could even feel the unrelenting heat from the sun bearing down upon me as clouds of dust raised and settled around my shoes as I walked through their community.

My
...more
Roemer
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Whatever’s happened to you can either make you beautiful, or it will ruin you forever. You decide”

3.5 stars rounded up for Chelsea Bieker’s debut novel “Godshot”. It was slow-moving, but profoundly deep, stunning and at times, heavy.

Picture this; our main character, Lacey May, and a church cult, living in a dry, desert wasteland which was once home to a thriving community and fruitful raisin farms. In their time of drought and desperation, they have turned to Pastor Vern, their creepy cult
...more
Jamie
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Loved this book! Wow when I first read the blurb I knew I’d be able to relate- growing up in a strict religion with cooky ways and values I kept shaking my head like omg I know what she’s talking about! This book had me laughing and crying and not wanting it to end! Female power to the core!
Thanks to Netgalley for my advanced ebook copy! Put this on your TBR!!!
Nicole Wheeler
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The story was fast-paced and the characters endearing. The plot isn’t new - cult-leader, pregnancy, small town creepiness - but it does have a freshness to it that I found endearing by the middle of the novel. I did love the New Agey touches that felt of the current times, but also timeless in a way. A solid read.
Emily Tanner
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is beautifully written and extremely painful. I think this book will be wonderful for some people, and for me I could have lived without it. I am giving it a high rating, but as someone else in the comments said, I am so burnt out on reading narratives where women just suffer and suffer and suffer at the hands of men. If you are also burnt out out on these narratives, my recommendation is to read Tess of the D'Urbervilles, cry for a week, and then ease back into the reading world with ...more
Meagan Hansen
Received as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I don't even know where to start. I loved this book but found myself cringing often. Not because the writing was bad, its actually exceptional.....I cringed at everything Lacey May went through. I was disturbed and delighted by this book. It threw me on the ground, but then picked me up and gave me a massive warm hug. Definitely glad I read this.
Sonja Yoerg
An extraordinary debut that is both gritty and compassionate. Bieker evokes the terrible ravished beauty of the Central Valley so vivdly you can feel the sun bake your skin, and characters are fresh and nuanced. It's also so much more than a coming-of-age story, with themes of pseudo-religion, partiarchy, motherhood, and human longing. It's unsettling and gorgeous; just read it!
Karen
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
“Whatever’s happened to you can either make you beautiful, or it will ruin you forever. You decide.”

I have so many feelings about this book. I'll start by saying that the writing is phenomenal. Such beautiful sentences and such a pleasure to read them. It reminded me of White Oleander many different times. Really excellent imagery in her writing. The atmosphere of the draught was so stifling, so real that I felt parched as I read the story.

“I don’t think they were her ideas. I think they were
...more
Diane Payne
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bieker has created a dark novel, that unfortunately bears many elements of truth, separating it from dystopian novels covering bleak ecological and personal subject matters. This novel takes place in California, in a small, drought-infested town, where the locals worship Vern, a sexual predator low life, who tells his followers he will provide them with rain after they follow his requests. The novel isn't as surprising as one would hope since we live in a world of men taking advantage of women. ...more
Erica
Feb 13, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5/5 Stars - God Shot was an enjoyable but tough read. It's hard to imagine such a young girl living in such awful circumstances and going through what young Lacey May did. The first part of this book dragged a little bit for me and I had a hard time really getting into it but I am so glad I stuck to it. I loved the character development, watching certain relationships grow, watching Lacey May start to come into her own thinking and watching certain people get what was coming to them. This was ...more
Laura Jay
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This story of a fourteen year old girl, whose mother involved her in a religious cult, is realistic and heartbreaking. Lacey is sharp and can think pretty well for herself. She realizes her mother’s drunken behavior is wrong. This is one of those sad times, when the child must become the adult as Lacey tries her best to protect her mother from herself.

Ultimately, Lacey’s mother takes off with a stranger and Lacey is left with her weird grandmother. And while Lacey is smart girl, she seems to
...more
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Chelsea Bieker is from California’s Central Valley. She is the recipient of a 2018 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and the author of two forthcoming books, the novel GODSHOT (April 2020) and the story collection, COWBOYS AND ANGELS (2021). Her writing has been published in Granta, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Catapult, Joyland, The Cincinnati Review, The Normal School, No Tokens, Cosmonauts ...more
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