Unsinkable and wrecked by grief, motherless and aimless and looking for connection, Helen Dedleder is a girl with a gift she doesn't want to use and a pack of friends who are all just helping each other get by.
So cut off from the rest of the world that even the internet is blocked (never mind traffic in and out), Rosary, California, is run by evangelicals but was named by Catholics. It’s a town on very formal relations with its neighbors, one that boasts an oil refinery as well as a fairly sizable population of teenagers.
For Helen and her gang of misfits, the tire yard, sex, and beer help pass the days until they turn eighteen and leave town. Her best friends, Win and Rainbolene, late arrivals to Rosary, are particularly keen to depart—Rain because she’ll finally be able to get the hormones she needs to fully become herself. Watching over them is Aunt Bev, an outcast like the kids, who runs the barely tolerated Psychic Encounter Shoppe and tries to keep Helen connected to her own psychic talents—a gift passed down from her mother. Tensions are building, though, in every way. Threats against the Psychic Encounter Shoppe become serious actions. One of the kids gets in trouble, and then another. And Helen can see some things before they happen, but somehow can't see the most important things happening right in front of her.
Tupelo Hassman's gods with a little g bursts and splinters with flawed, lovable characters whose haphazard investigations into each others's hearts will reshape your understanding of trust, how to build a family, and how to make a future you can see.
"gods with a little g proves that nothing lets in the sun like being surrounded with love . . . This is well-charted territory, but it sings due to Hassman’s joy of text, unusual thinking and clever turns of phrase that allow even half-page 'chapters' to vibrate with truth . . . As Helen discovers her own free will, her adolescent journey offers hope to readers of any age. The book’s final section races along with so much action that, like me, those readers may wish for a sequel, becoming evangelists for a writer with heart."—Bethanne Patrick, The Washington Post
"Sweet and triumphant . . . [Tupelo Hassman] proves masterful at recounting Helen and her friends' most painful moments [and] also brings a disarming sense of humor to the novel . . . Hassman is a vastly talented writer, and she brings to the novel a fascinating structure—gods with a little g is told in a series of short vignettes; the result is a staccato kind of narrative that brilliantly evokes the feeling of being a teenager, constantly addled, at loose ends, desperate to make a connection. And for all its dark moments, it's a novel that's as heartwarming as it is beautifully written."—Michael Schaub, NPR
“In super short, first-person chapters, Helen lets us into her world—brimming with more transgression and wild thoughts than her father would like. Sweet and sour, magical yet grounded in reality: gods with a little g is one special coming-of-age tale. Take note, HBO: This would be perfect prestige TV fodder."—Elena Nicolau, Refinery29
"It’s hilarious, downright sad, and poignant. It tells so many stories, but all of them are really just one story: how love can carry us through anything; how love doesn’t always take the form we think it will."—Ericka McIntyre, Writer's Digest
“Tupelo Hassman has written a sacrament for girls growing up as we did, a liturgy for their irreverent, hilarious, resilient souls, a stylistically sly and beautiful book, a wild ride of a novel set in a California everyone should know.”—Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here and Highwire Moon
“Flannery O’Connor once said that sooner or later she’d have to write about the religious consciousness without a religion. With this novel, Tupelo Hassman picks up and runs where O’Connor left off, and I am grateful to her for writing fiction that is mystical and reckless and hopefully irreverent, and that has at least (at least!) five lines of poetry on every page. This is very much the Real Thing.”—Carlene Bauer, author of Not That Kind of Girl and Frances and Bernard
“Tupelo Hassman’s sharp and loving teen girls’ navigation of Traumas, with big and little T’s, is well-stocked with tools of mysticism, sparkling humor, and unflinching sexuality. In gods with a little g, she unfolds what YA can be, offering a roadmap of survival with hope and the heart intact.”—Laura Albert, author of Sarah and The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things
"Irreverent, wise, heartbreaking, and heart-mending, this is about nothing less than the everyday challenges of love, belief, and existence. In Hassman's dazzlingly original style, sweet-sour, wicked-tender Helen's entrancing narration casts a remarkable spell. Girlchild won an Alex Award, and this novel is no less likely to inspire and reward literary-minded teens, especially aspiring writers."—Booklist (starred review)
THE MEASURE OF GOODNESS
If you were flying in a plane over Rosary, California, the first thing you’d see is me, a skinny white girl with messy hair and a big backpack, waving you on. “Keep going,” I’d say. The second thing you’d...