Jesus Saves

Darcey Steinke, Author
Darcey Steinke, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $23 (224p) ISBN 978-0-87113-693-0
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-8021-3598-8
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-0-8021-9322-3
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With a hook that could have originated on the six o'clock news, Steinke's flashy third novel is sure to strike a chord with contemporary audiences. When Sandy Patrick, a typical suburban youngster, is kidnapped from summer camp, her unnamed town of strip malls and dingy subdivisions reacts with a mixture of horror and fascination. And no one is more interested than Ginger, a minister's teenage daughter who has been living a most unchurchly life--smoking pot, drinking beer and carousing in the backs of cars and in the woods with her wayward boyfriend. Ginger has watched her father's congregation steadily abandon him in favor of younger, slicker clergymen more well-versed in ad campaigns than in the language of sin. For Ginger, Sandy's kidnapping is just more evidence of the hollowness of her world, a world where ""she felt she was walking on a movie set, that the buildings were one-dimensional... where everything was make-believe, one attraction as false and inauthentic as the next."" As her father finds himself alienated from his church, Ginger's orbit brings her closer and closer to Sandy, still alive and dragged from hotel to hotel by her captor. Steinke (Suicide Blonde) turns in a fine portrait of Ginger's suburban hopelessness. Less successful are chapters in Sandy's voice; despite the horrific details of her kidnapping, Sandy's existence as a sex slave and object of fascination doesn't quite reach an emotional climax. Steinke displays sharp prose, but there's an emptiness inside this book--it's the emptiness of suburbia, perhaps--that suggests Steinke has delved only slightly deeper than the tabloid mentality she seeks to expose. Author tour. (Oct.)
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