From Publishers Weekly
A scrappy kid with a violent stutter, novelist Steinke (Milk
; Suicide Blonde
) is the oldest child of an aloof Lutheran minister and a clinically depressed former Miss Albany. The household is steeped in the word of God; Steinke grows up brewing her own communion wine, baptizing the neighborhood cats and craving, even at age six, spiritual transcendence. It's a wish that never leaves her, and she's tireless in her pursuit of this elusive state of oneness, first seeking it in a sexually obsessive relationship with a man who turns out to be gay, and then in her doomed marriage. Her writing on these topics is blunt and powerful. When her husband confides that a teenage girl of their acquaintance has been e-mailing him, Steinke doesn't pull her punches. "Michael believed that getting close to young girls and hearing about their love life was so exciting that anyone, even his own wife, would understand the Masonic pull." When it comes to her personal relationship with God—the real meat of the book—Steinke is relatively brief, almost distant: "The idea of church still has a grip on my imagination, but I realize now that what I thought was held only inside those walls—grace and divinity—is actually located directly and authentically inside myself." Steinke is a gifted writer, and this only leaves readers wanting more. (Apr.)
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Steinke, author of several novels, including Jesus Saves
(1997), turns out a smoothly written memoir detailing the derailing of a minister's daughter. Her father's professional life begins in a poverty-ridden carnival town where he builds a modest A-frame church from a mail-order kit. Her voluptuous mother, a former beauty queen, is worn down and depressed by "the degraded position" of a poor clergyman's wife, and young Darcey becomes "desperate to minimize [her] mother's sadness." The child sometimes escapes and plays "deacon of the woods" as she baptizes cats, weds her calico blanket for security, and performs funerals for dead animals. A third child's birth pushes her mother temporarily over the edge. When Dad enters secular life "ministering to crazy people" in a state institution, it's another step down. No wonder Darcey stutters. And no wonder she rebels, committing herself "to glamour" and appearing in photo shoots and commercials as her wildness increases. Marriage, motherhood, and divorce follow, and at every conjuncture, the reader finds joy in Steinke's journey. Whitney ScottCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved