Catapult. Apr. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781948226486. $26. F
Abandoned by her mother to the care of her religious zealot grandmother, 14-year-old Lacey May is partly a God-stunned naive believer in cult leader Pastor Vern and partly a sharp skeptic. They live in Peaches, CA, a scorched town suffering from a drought so devastating that baptisms take place in an abandoned bathtub full of cola. Pastor Vern, who rules Peaches with an iron fist, is closely monitoring several young girls for signs of their “woman blood,” which will signal their readiness for their “drought-ending assignment,” mass impregnation. As the realization of the assignment’s horrifying end goal picks up momentum, Lacey’s frantic efforts to escape drive her to seek safety with an acid-scarred owner of a phone sex business and her daughter.
VERDICT Lacey May’s is an irresistible voice, part gullible believer, part whip-smart independent spirit who surprises at every turn. Debut novelist Bieker weaves in the political battles being fought on multiple fronts
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