When Jesse's family moves to Roanoke, Virginia, in the summer of 1972, she's 12 years old and already mindful of the schism between innocence and femininity, the gap between childhood and the adult world. Her father, a former pastor, cycles through spiritual disciplines as quickly as he cycles through jobs.
Her mother is dissatisfied, glumly fetishizing the Kennedys. In the midst of it all, Jesse finds space to set up her room with her secret treasures: busts of Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare, a Venus flytrap, her Cher 45s, and The Big Book of Burial Rites, which she reads obsessively. But outside awaits all the misleading sexual mores, muddled social customs, and confused spirituality.
"Steinke's narrator, Jesse, is both unforgettably unique and a quintessential adolescent girl... Jesse's naive admiration... and her chameleonlike reaction to whomever she attaches herself to create a painfully true account of a tough phase of life made more so by the disillusions of the time. But as Jesse observes these characters' hopelessness, she herself becomes more defined - perhaps more the guitarist than the girl in the song." (Booklist)
"A daring and arrestingly beautiful novel about what it’s like to walk through the world, wide awake, taking in radiant and terrifying messages about everything around you." (Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation)
"Here's a novel that gathers stunning momentum with every tiny perfect detail, and tracks the feelings of a girl and the mood of a country with the surest touch. With Sister Golden Hair, Darcey Steinke proves yet again that she is one of our most stylish and intense novelists." (Sam Lipsyte, author of The Fun Parts)
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