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Review and giveaway: Holy Ghost Girl

October 6, 2011

When Donna Johnson was three years old, her mother signed on as the organist for revivalist David Terrell.  For a while, their life revolved around his revivals as they moved from town to town.  After a few years, Johnson, her mother, and her brother left the revival and moved away on their own.  They were only on their own for a few months before Johnson’s mother returned to Terrell’s ministry, leaving the kids with anyone who would take care of them.

Terrell’s ministry grew immensely and he became known worldwide.  Johnson’s mother eventually came home to her children and Terrell was a frequent visitor.  Since Johnson sees both sides of Terrell, she struggles to decide if he’s a man of God or a hypocritical sinner.

Holy Ghost Girl is Donna Johnson‘s memoir and it really proves that truth is stranger than fiction!  I tried not to give away too much in my description of the book because it’s a story that is best revealed slowly.  I think my jaw hung open as I read parts of Johnson’s story.

I wasn’t familiar with David Terrell, but he was an extremely popular revivalist – at one time boasting the largest revival tent.  I’ve always found revivals like his fascinating and have often wondered if the preachers who ran them are sincere in their work or just out to swindle their followers.  This book opened my eyes and answered a lot of my questions.  You need to read it to see what you think.

Johnson’s story is a fascinating one.  Her childhood had to be confusing and disturbing and I can’t imagine growing up that way.  I found it ironic that a child who was raised by “people of God” was subjected to such neglect and occasional abuse.  I felt like the book lacked emotion at times, but can’t help but wonder if Johnson has had to distance herself from her past in order to move on.  Even with that small quibble, I thoroughly enjoyed Holy Ghost Girl and recommend it to anyone who enjoys memoirs.  Check out the book’s trailer:

Thanks to Penguin Books and TLC Book Tours, I have one copy of Holy Ghost Girl to give away.  To enter to win HOLY GHOST GIRL by Donna Johnson, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open for those in the US or Canada.  I will use random.org to determine the winner. Contest ends at midnight EST Tuesday, October 19, 2011.   Winners will be announced on Wednesday, October 20, 2011.  Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.

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36 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2011 6:27 am

    This one sounds like a good that I would really enjoy. I tend to like these type of reads. Thanks for hosting the giveaway.

  2. October 6, 2011 6:29 am

    I am so intrigued by this book! I love the title and the trailer is fab. So Southern!

  3. October 6, 2011 7:57 am

    Wow, this sounds fascinating! The whole religious revival movement is interesting to learn about.

  4. October 6, 2011 8:20 am

    I am a bit behind on my blogreading, so much fun stuff to catch up on. All new books 😀

  5. October 6, 2011 8:39 am

    Sounds like a crazy read! It’s always amazing to me how fascinating memoirs can be.

  6. October 6, 2011 8:39 am

    This looks like it would be a perfect followup to Patron Saint of Butterflies, which, although fiction, was written by a woman who grew up in a closed religious commune.

  7. October 6, 2011 8:51 am

    This seems really interesting to me, but I’m not entering because if we get anymore books we’ll have to move out of the house to make room!

  8. October 6, 2011 8:59 am

    Wow, this looks really intense. I can see distancing ones self from things like this, emotionally, for sure.

  9. October 6, 2011 10:30 am

    Sounds like a captivating read.

  10. October 6, 2011 10:58 am

    The trailer sure pulls you in. This sounds interesting as well as emotional. I’ve often wondered about revivals also. This would be a good look into a world many of us have often wondered about.

  11. avisannschild permalink
    October 6, 2011 11:25 am

    This sounds like a fascinating read! Thanks for the giveaway.

  12. October 6, 2011 1:29 pm

    I’ve been very curious about this book since I first heard about it and will definitely add it to my list! Thanks for the chance to win.

  13. October 6, 2011 1:45 pm

    I’ve started to enjoy memoirs of late – not all mind you. In depends on just what the author is relating. This one sounds like one I’d probably like so I’ll pop over and enter!

  14. October 6, 2011 2:22 pm

    I am going to be reading this one very soon, and have to say that I am excited about it. I think the author has a very interesting perspective and tale to tell, and I am eager to get caught up in it. Glad you enjoyed it, and great review!

  15. October 6, 2011 3:24 pm

    That does sound rather interesting! I love it when memoirs are “stranger” than fiction.

  16. October 6, 2011 3:28 pm

    this doesn’t sound like my thing…but thanks for the review

  17. October 6, 2011 3:56 pm

    “can’t help but wonder if Johnson has had to distance herself from her past in order to move on” – I think you make a great point Kathy … that might be her reason for writing that way.

    I’m glad you enjoyed this one for the most part. Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  18. October 6, 2011 4:28 pm

    Anything stranger than fiction is always fascinating…

  19. October 6, 2011 8:07 pm

    Jill and I are in the same boat. I’m loading bags with books to donate — so far, I’ve given away or swapped over 600, this year and we’re still overloaded. This one sounds really fascinating, but so sad. It is strange that sometimes “people of God” can be truly cruel, often without meaning to, just in taking the “spare the rod and spoil the child” thing far too seriously.

  20. October 6, 2011 8:45 pm

    I don’t know much about revivals, but his book does sound interesting. Thanks for hosting the giveaway, Kathy. 🙂

  21. October 6, 2011 9:15 pm

    It should be an interesting story, an inside look.

  22. Angie S. permalink
    October 6, 2011 10:30 pm

    I love memoirs. I must have voyeuristic tendencies lol

  23. Stacy permalink
    October 6, 2011 10:51 pm

    I totally agree with you ~ I have always wondered if these men & their followers are true believers or what their story is. There are so many discrepancies in the lives they lead that all cannot be as they say….anyways thanks for the giveaway & the review!

  24. October 6, 2011 11:26 pm

    I read a middle grade reader “The Tent” (I think) by Gary Paulsen about this same subject – that was, of course, fiction but still fascinating and this one, as a memoir, sounds even better. I’ll have to enter for this one!

  25. October 7, 2011 1:00 pm

    I wasn’t even thinking it was a memoir for the first few paragraphs. I love memoirs with a twist and this sounds like a good one. Nothing like seeing the “truth” of someone who spends their life telling others how to live.

  26. October 7, 2011 1:10 pm

    I’ve never heard of this book. Even though I’m not big on memoirs, you’ve made me curious about this one!

  27. October 7, 2011 9:39 pm

    Definitely sounds fascinating! And since you say truth is stranger than fiction, you have me hooked!

  28. October 7, 2011 11:38 pm

    Because of my childhood, I always love to read other stories of kids who grew up in a different sort of enviornment. Sounsd like one I would enjoy.

  29. Nancye Davis permalink
    October 8, 2011 12:37 am

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  30. October 8, 2011 10:58 am

    I like memoirs, especially when the person has had a totally different childhood than I had. I grew up in Illinois where revival tents were often seen around small towns and I once reluctantly accompanied someone to a faith healer’s service. I could hardly wait to get out.

  31. October 8, 2011 8:54 pm

    I’m glad you liked it as much as I did. I feel like we saw it the same way. She has a powerful message to convey.

    • October 8, 2011 8:57 pm

      Sorry, I did it again. Foodie’s Reading Challenge is me.

  32. October 8, 2011 9:08 pm

    Great giveaway and sounds like it’s a winner. Wishing everyone good luck with the book giveaway 🙂

  33. October 10, 2011 1:41 am

    I’m intrigued by this part of history as well, although tent revivals aren’t completely extinct quite yet. Sounds harrowing.

  34. October 12, 2011 11:44 am

    What an eye opening memoir. I’ve often wondered the same things as you about those revival preachers.

  35. October 15, 2011 9:48 pm

    The fact that your jaw stayed open most of the time you were reading, sounds like a book that I want to read. Thanks for hosting a giveaway.

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