The Girl Who Slept with God
Photo by Tim Brelinski and Max Boyd
Audio Interview With the Author
Audio Length: 15 minutes
Finalist for the California Book Awards First Book Prize
Val Brelinski, reared by devout Christians in the tiny town of Arco, Idaho, admits that her debut novel, THE GIRL WHO SLEPT WITH GOD, is more autobiographical than fictional. In this audio conversation with Authorlink, Val explains what inspired her to write about her family and reveals her fears of facing family anger for revealing their story. She also talks about how she got a lucky break that propelled her out of a small town teaching job all the way to Stanford University where she honed her writing skills and now teaches.
THE GIRL WHO SLEPT WITH GOD, set in Val’s hometown in 1970, tells the story of three sisters: moral-minded Grace, gregarious and strong-willed Jory, and young Frances. Their father, Oren, is a respected member of the community and science professor at the local college. Yet their mother’s depression and Grace’s religious fervor threaten the seemingly perfect family, whose world is upended when Grace returns from a missionary trip to Mexico and discovers she’s pregnant with—she believes—the child of God. Distraught, Oren sends Jory and Grace to an isolated home at the edge of the town. There, they prepare for the much-awaited arrival of the baby while building a makeshift family that includes an elderly eccentric neighbor and a tattooed social outcast who drives an ice cream truck.
Vocally graceful, fearlessly intimate, and written with a loving heart, THE GIRL WHO SLEPT WITH GOD is a complex and compassionate exploration of modern-day faith, family, and love. A true literary achievement told by a bold new voice in American fiction, THE GIRL WHO SLEPT WITH GOD will strike resounding chords with readers of Marilynne Robinson, Jaime Quatro, Amanda Coplin, and Celeste Ng.
Praise for THE GIRL WHO SLEPT WITH GOD
“[A] fine, carefully wrought novel. . . . There are no angels or devils, no absolute good or bad, only flawed though mostly forgivable people, whose complicated subjectivities make reading this novel, despite its many sad moments, a heartening experience.”
—Naomi Fry, 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
“[Brelinski] had readers hooked from page 1.”
“Two young sisters—one devout and undeniably pregnant, the other full of the devil—left by their God-fearing parents in a remote farmhouse . . . what could possibly go wrong? Val Brelinski’s fictional debut, The Girl Who Slept with God, answers that question and others with daring and grace.”
“[A] complex portrait of a family in upheaval. . . . Brelinski excels at capturing the mixture of sensations and hormones in the teenage girl. . . . A compelling, thought-provoking story about female adolescence, family love, faith and independence, with a well-drawn girl at the heart of it.”
—The Seattle Times
About the Author
When she was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, Val Brelinki, who had run out of short stories to hand in for workshop, sat down one afternoon thinking about her rather unorthodox childhood and, as if compelled, wrote one hundred pages of what would later become THE GIRL WHO SLEPT WITH GOD (Penguin; On-sale: July 5; $16.00; ISBN: 9780143109433), her powerfully affecting debut novel, which is now available in paperback. Growing up in rural Idaho, Brelinksi spent much of her time reading the Bible, attending services, and “witnessing” to unbelievers. She and her two sisters were not permitted to read magazines, play cards, or visit bowling alleys, movie theaters, and restaurants that served alcohol. These experiences and their profound effects, sometimes for the worse, became the emotional impetus of Brelinski’s entrancing debut.
About the Author
Val Brelinski was born and raised in Nampa, Idaho, the daughter of devout evangelical Christians. She was 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 Vogue, More, VQR, and The Rumpus. She lives in Northern California and teaches creative writing in Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program.
THE GIRL WHO SLEPT WITH GOD
Penguin | 9780143109433|On sale: July 5, 2016 | $16.00
Also available as an ebook