cover image Gods with a Little G

Gods with a Little G

Tupelo Hassman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-16446-1

Hassman’s charming and funny second novel (following Girlchild) takes place in Rosary, Calif., a contemporary town controlled by the religious right, who censor media and block internet access, fearing evil influences. Living there is 16-year-old Helen Dedleder, who spends her time working at her Aunt Bev’s frowned upon Psychic Encounter Shoppe and drinking beers with other rebellious teens at the local tire salvage. Her mother died from cancer six years ago, and her father, the town’s postman, begins dating the mother of Bird, a bad boy Helen has a crush on. Along with friends Winthrop and Rainbolene, Helen charges through a series of misadventures, clashing with “Bible Thumpers,” volunteering at a nursing home, testing her own psychic abilities, reading porno books, and tuning in to radio stations from the nearby free city of Sky. Using the first-person point of view and brief chapters, Hassman taps into Helen’s confused and maturing mind, and bounces between scenes to construct a loose plotline. This coming-of-age tale honestly and strikingly encapsulates the teenage experience. (Aug.)