Category Archives: Kelsey McKinney

Review: God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney

Title: God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


A mesmerizing debut novel set in northern Texas about two sisters who discover an unsettling secret about their father, the head pastor of an evangelical megachurch, that upends their lives and community—a story of family, identity, and the delicate line between faith and deception.

Luke Nolan has led the Hope congregation for more than a decade, while his wife and daughters have patiently upheld what it means to live righteously. Made famous by a viral sermon on purity co-written with his eldest daughter, Abigail, Luke is the prototype of a modern preacher: tall, handsome, a spellbinding speaker. But his younger daughter Caroline has begun to notice the cracks in their comfortable life. She is certain that her perfect, pristine sister is about to marry the wrong man—and Caroline has slid into sin with a boy she’s known her entire life, wondering why God would care so much about her virginity anyway.

When it comes to light, five weeks before Abigail’s wedding, that Luke has been lying to his family, the entire Nolan clan falls into a tailspin. Caroline seizes the opportunity to be alone with her sister. The two girls flee to the ranch they inherited from their maternal grandmother, far removed from the embarrassing drama of their parents and the prying eyes of the community. But with the date of Abigail’s wedding fast approaching, the sisters will have to make a hard decision about which familial bonds are worth protecting.

An intimate coming-of-age story and a modern woman’s read, God Spare the Girls lays bare the rabid love of sisterhood and asks what we owe our communities, our families, and ourselves.


God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney is a captivating novel about the bonds of family and faith.

Caroline Nolan is very excited about leaving her small town for college. She has little in common with her much older sister Abigail who is about to, in Caroline’s opinion, marry the wrong man. The sisters’ father is the very successful pastor of a Baptist evangelical megachurch. Their mother Ruthie is completely enmeshed in her role as a pastor’s wife. Caroline is already questioning her faith when the truth emerges about Luke’s affair with a woman in the congregation. Abby and Caroline endure their father’s uncomfortable confession in front of his flock and in the humiliating aftermath, they decide to spend time together on the ranch they inherited from their grandmother.  Will this time together bring the sisters closer together?

Caroline has recently been enjoying sneaking around with a young man she has known all her life. They both are going against their church’s teaching but neither feel guilty about their clandestine encounters. But after she learns of her father’s affair, Caroline begins to wonder if she has inherited nothing but his bad qualities. And once she and Abby are alone at the ranch, Caroline completely disconnects from her life.

Abby is in her mid-twenties and fast approaching “old maid” status when she begins dating Matthew. Their relationship quickly moves rather quickly. Abby has always been very involved in her dad’s ministry but after his affair is revealed, she finds it difficult to enjoy church.  Abby is also a bit checked out from completing the last of her wedding details.

Caroline has always yearned for a better relationship with Abby and she has high hopes their time alone will bring them closer. At first a little awkward with is each other, long walks and their explorations of the ranch begin to work their magic. Caroline finds it difficult to confide in her sister, but their shared anger over their father’s affair helps draw them together. She remains a little jealous over Abby’s relationship with Luke but a shocking realization helps her see both her father and sister much more clearly.  In the wake of another stunning discovery, will Caroline and Abby return to their expected roles in the family? And can their relationship survive a well-meaning decision that turns out to be a huge mistake?

God Spare the Girls is a character-driven novel with flawed but likable characters. Caroline’s questioning of her faith rings true as does her envy of her seemingly perfect sister.  Abby never deviates from the path her parents expect her to take. But she has hidden depths that remain below the surface for much of the story. Ruthie’s reaction to the very public revelation of her husband’s sordid secret is expected but still disheartening. Luke is handsome and charismatic but disappointingly fallible. Kelsey McKinney brings this absolutely engrossing novel to a satisfying yet abrupt conclusion.

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