Book Review: Holy Ghost Girl
Publisher: Gotham, October 13, 2011
Donna was only three years old when her mother took a job as the organist for mega-evangelist, David Terrell. This was back in the 60s and 70s. They traveled with his enormous tent revivals throughout the U.S. Donna and her brother went along with their mother and the evangelical team.
Donna and her family became a part of the inner circle of this group, but that meant constant travel, sleeping every night somewhere new, and night after night of preaching and the performance of “miracles”.
As a child Donna didn’t know any other life. As she grew up she began to notice the differences between the outside world and the hypocrisy of the evangelist’s world. She saw the disconnect between the message preached and the behavior. She saw the extra-marital affairs of David Terrell, including her own mother. The Terrell ministry grew until the team was traveling in mercedes and jet planes. Eventually, the IRS visited and Terrell went to prison.
I love memoirs and this one is one of the best I’ve read in quite a while. Donna Johnson told her story in such an honest way that she pulled all sorts of emotions out of me. I understand a little bit about the world she grew up in.
I grew up in the organized religious version of her world. We were called the Holy Rollers. We attended church often, sometimes every night if our church was sponsoring a revival. The author’s explanation of the evangelist’s services sounded very familiar. Even as a child I saw adults I knew were untrustworthy no matter what they might say from a pulpit. I’m sure young Donna Johnson saw the same thing.
Donna’s story was sad on several levels, yet told in a humorous and very smart manner. I’m sorry Donna Johnson spent her childhood in this environment. To me, the saddest part was what it did to her faith. But, Donna is a survivor. She left her family and that world at seventeen. She went on to a productive and satisfied life. I’m glad she told her story and I recommend it to you.
Check your local library or your local bookstore for copies of this book. Holy Ghost Girl: A Memoir is also available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)