GIRL MEETS GOD: On the Path to a Spiritual Life
Raised by a lapsed Baptist mother and secular Jewish father, Winner feels a drive toward God as powerful as her drives toward books and boys. Twice she has attempted to read her way into religion—to Orthodox Judaism her freshman year at Columbia, and then four years later at Cambridge to Anglican Christianity. Twice she has discovered that a religion's actual practitioners may not measure up to its theoretical proponents. (Invariably the boyfriends—or their mothers—disappoint.) It is easier to say what this book is not than what it is. It is not a conversion memoir: Winner's movement in and out of religious frames, but does not tell, her tale. It is not a defense of either faith (there is something here to offend every reader); and Winner, a doctoral candidate in the history of religion, is in her 20s—young for autobiography. Because most chapters, though loosely related to the Christian church year, could stand alone, it resembles a collection of essays; but the ensemble is far too unified to deserve that label. Clearly it is memoir, literary and spiritual, sharing Anne Lamott's self-deprecating intensity and Stephen J. Dubner's passion for authenticity. Though Winner does not often scrutinize her motives, she reveals herself through abundant, concrete and often funny descriptions of her life, inner and outer. Winner's record of her own experience so far is a page-turning debut by a young writer worth watching. (Oct. 18)
Forecast:This book has been selected for Barnes & Noble's Discover Great New Writers program, which means it will be part of a special display in every Barnes & Noble store. Algonquin plans targeted marketing in Christian, Jewish and national publications for the memoir, which has a first print run of 20,000 copies.