In Holy Ghost Girl (Gotham, Oct.), Donna Johnson’s unapologetic treatment of her childhood immersed in the Pentecostal tent-meeting movement is flawless. She is honest in her retelling of events, yet her tone is even and sympathetic. The book focuses on David Terrell, charismatic leader of a traveling group of believers; her mother, who is dedicated to his cause; and the myriad children and adults who are a part of her extended family. Terrell is weak of flesh but strong in willpower—a popular preacher and healer who is on the rise in religious circles. His tent meetings are huge, and as donations begin to flow in, excess and the downfall of his ministry soon follow. With a background similar to Johnson’s, I can attest to the familiar, authentic Pentecostal content in her story. This is an excellent book for those wanting to know more about the Pentecostal faith of the 1960s and 1970s and the beliefs that kept them going in the face of spiritual disaster.
Volume 248 Issue 41 10/10/2011