Search Me!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Holy Ghost Girl by Donna M. Johnson

imagePublisher: Gotham 
ISBN: 1592406300
Pages:278 pages
Genre: Memoir  
Challenges-100+ Reading Challenge, Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge
Buy this Book: Amazonclip_image001_thumb_thumb, Powell's, Indiebound clip_image0013_thumb_thumbclip_image0014_thumb_thumb

Summary from publisher:

A compassionate, humorous story of faith, betrayal, and coming of age on the evangelical 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 broken-down 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 the 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 in which the mystery of faith and human frailty share a surprising and humorous coexistence.

My Review: 

I could not resist this book once I saw that cover. It just drew me in. I was also interested in the subject matter. I am not a Christian but the belief in evangelists and such has always been quite fascinating to me in a completely disbelieving kind of way. I also find it quite fascinating to see how otherwise sensible people can hand their lives over to someone like David Terrell. It probably always will boggle my mind.

I started this book with a completely blank slate. My knowledge of evangelists or tent revivals is scant. I just know that whenever I have come across a evangelist on TV, I have found them to be obnoxious, unbelievable and a bit creepy. And from what I read in this book, my opinion did not improve much. This world and this culture scared me quite a bit. David Terrell seemed to be very predatory and I am amazed that people actually believe in him and what he preaches.

Overall, I found this one to be highly interesting if a little bit disturbing. I am not usually so judgmental about the beliefs people have and the way they live their lives but I am wary of anyone who is willing to follow a man like David Terrell and give up everything in their lives, including their children, to be a part of his flock of believers. It makes no sense. I did love reading about it through the eyes of a child. Children are often the most honest and though Donna’s memories are colored with humor, it still rang as sad to me. I also was a bit flabbergasted that Johnson still seemed to hold some belief in Terrell.

I have to be honest. I sat through this book eyes wide and a “Huh?” look on my face. I was completely unfamiliar with this world and, to tell you the truth, I don’t want to be more familiar. 


*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review.   My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies   made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the  blog.


  1. Terrell's group seems like it was a cult rather than a mainstream religious group. I can't imagine living my childhood in that environment!

    I'm glad you found the book so engrossing. Thanks for being on the tour.

  2. I am familiar with this ministry and I do not find this book well written at all in the least bit. There were a lot of gaps and bouncing around in time. She writes about his visitation in 67 then without notice we are back in 62. She has a vendetta that she needs to keep and work out with herself. Trying to shame people in public is not the answer. How she portrays Terrells ministry is not at all like it is. In our genereation there are a lot of marraige diffuculties by all professionals including ministers. It takes two to work things out...who knows what really happened and I am suspicious this author is not telling the whole truth about things.



Blog Template by In Between Design Studio