A compassionate, humorous story of faith, betrayal, and coming of age on the sawdust trail.
She was just three years old when her mother signed on as the organist of tent revivalist David Terrell, and before long, Donna Johnson was part of the hugely popular evangelical preacher’s inner circle. At seventeen, she left the ministry for good, with a trove of stranger-than-fiction memories. A homecoming like no other, Holy Ghost Girl brings to life miracles, exorcisms, and faceoffs with the Ku Klux Klan - and that’s just what went on under the tent.
As Terrell became known worldwide during the 1960s and ’70s, the caravan of brokendown cars and trucks that made up his ministry evolved into fleets of Mercedes and airplanes. The glories of the Word mixed with betrayals of the flesh, and Donna’s mother bore Terrell’s children in one of several secret households he maintained. Thousands of followers, dubbed “Terrellites” by the press, left their homes to await the end of the world in cultlike communities. Jesus didn’t show, but the IRS did, and the prophet-healer went to prison.
Recounted with deadpan observations and surreal detail, Holy Ghost Girl bypasses easy judgment to articulate a rich world where the mystery of faith and human frailty share a surprising and humorous coexistence.
Donna Johnson has written about religion for the Dallas Morning News and the Austin American Statesman. She won the Mayborn Creative Nonfiction Prize for Manuscript in Progress in 2007 for Holy Ghost Girl.
“What a life!…Donna Johnson sorts through her story with great insight, compassion, and humor.” (Jeannette Walls, New York Times best-selling author of The Glass Castle)
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An Amazing Story of Courage and Hope
Because I know the author personally it rates pretty far towards the top of the list.
Donna and her brother. Because of the experiences they had to endure.
In talking to Donna about the audible book she said sometimes she thought that maybe she should have narrated it her self, but, after listening to the book I think that Carrington did a superb job of narrating this book and portraying all of the characters. I sincerely enjoyed her performance.
I did have an extreme reaction. There may have been some laughing but more crying. It was so sad to see how Donna's Mother left she and her brother long the way to be with this "evangelist". Of course later finally finding out that their Mom was sleeping with him and having children by him.
The journey through her life following this lifestyle had to be one of complete confusion to a young child, but they followed along being made to feel this was the only life there was to live.
As Donna became older and rebelled against the way she had been brought up, she always had thoughts in the back of her mind about David Terrell and his teachings., but mostly missing the children she had grown up with.
I have been to two events where Donna has come to talk about her book, they were intimate enough that I was fortunate enough to sit with her at both events. In talking to her and now having listened to the book, it is quite amazing to me that she grew up to be the outstanding person she is. Many others would have been felt beat down and not have risen above the life she endured.
I highly recommend this book. It is a story that will leave you feeling so glad that she rose above her childhood and youth to become a wonderful woman and author.
Read it four times
- Alyssa K