God Spare The Girls – Kelsey McKinney
18-year-old Caroline is looking towards her last summer at home, culminating with her sister’s wedding, when the bombshell of her father’s affair drops. With her faith in her father (and her Father) rattled, she and her sister move in to their grandmother’s old ranch, where they grow closer together and look towards their individual future plans. When her father’s affair is swept under the rug, both at church and at home, Caroline tries to decide if she can forgive him or it she’s ready to blaze her own path.
I was familiar with Kelsey McKinney’s non-fiction writing as a blogger at Defector.com, so I decided to dive in to God Spare The Girls, her debut novel without much advance information as to its subject matter. I’m not sure what I expected, but a coming-of-age story about the daughter of a megachurch pastor was certainly not it. I did find myself rooting for the characters to get their happy endings, which I would say one did and one didn’t, and it was certainly well-written, but this really didn’t fall into my wheelhouse. Maybe next time I’ll take a closer look at the subject matter before checking the book out of the library.
The Night The Lights Went Out: A Memoir of Life After Brain Damage – Drew Magary
In December of 2018, Deadspin writer Drew Magary was in New York, hosting a fan event and going to an after-party with his co-workers. Two weeks later, he woke up in a New York hospital, where he had been in a coma ever since he collapsed that night with a brain hemorrhage. The Night The Lights Went Out is the story of his injury, road to recovery, and what he learned along the way about letting the man he was go so he could become comfortable with the man he now was.
Magary published a version of this story on Deadspin in May of 2019, before that entire site imploded later that year. He fleshed out the initial injury, interviewing family, friends, and doctors who retained memories of the night and days that Magary did not. His recovery also lasted more than five months, eventually undergoing surgery for a cochlear implant, undergoing smell therapy, and seeing a therapist to deal with his ongoing anger.
Aside from his blogging work, first on Deadspin and now on Defector, I’ve also read two of Magary’s novels, one of which he seemingly finished and self-published in the midst of all of this. I was familiar with the main beats of his story, but going through the details and the long fight to get back to normal, before abandoning that fight and coming to grips with what normal now was, was a completely different beast.