Book review: Holy Ghost Girl

by Donna Johnson


Excellent! Definitely a fun book, if a bit freaky. Now, there’s a word I’ve never used before in a book review!

Donna Johnson tells the story of a little girl growing up on the “sawdust trail” of traveling tent missionary David Terrell. Yes, that David Terrell. Welcome to the world of public miracles, undercover infidelity and cognitive dissonance. On a grand scale. While it’s true the story is told through the wide eyes of a child, you may turn the final page still wondering if this wayward, charismatic holy man was the real thing. Perhaps God has a sense of humor.

Here’s the odd part. I read the entire book, never connecting the name of the author with the little girl it’s about. Donna. Yeah, it’s a memoir, an autobiographical work, but it never once crossed my mind that the young girl of this book could possibly overcome her bizarre upbringing and grow up “normal” enough to recount her youth in such fascinating prose. The writing is as delightful as it is haunting, one of those books that leaves you grasping hungrily at the acknowledgements after its all over to avoid putting it down.

It might be that I’m over-fascinated by religion-gone-wild, but IMO this is a story you don’t want to miss.

1 Comment

  1. The writing was easy to follow, and the reader gets a glimpse of what it was like for a 3-year old growing to a 12-year old on the road with a traveling evangelist. Her mother made choices for their lives that were not always the best choices and put the kids in a precarious spot. Donna knows this about her mother, accepts it when she is young, and then questions her mother about it when she feels like the circumstances warrant the right to speak out.

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