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PW #255: YA Contemporary with Magical Realism: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOAN

Monday, 2 November 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Pitchwars Badge (Square YA)

Manuscript Status:  1 Month

Mentor Name:  Kate Karyus Quinn and Mindy McGinnis
Mentee Name: Kamerhe Lane
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary with Magical Realism
Word Count: 80,000


When Joan commits suicide, she’s saved by Jesus. A Jesus who wears T-shirts and takes His own name in vain. He tells Joan to record a gospel of new truths. But in Joan’s fundamentalist family, truth is hard to tell. Like the truth about the girl she loves. Or about an attack on a transgender student. Or—worst of all—what Pastor Wells does in the name of God. Telling could destroy Joan, but nobody says no to Jesus.


Jesus told me to write this down. He said that’s sort of the whole point.

I don’t know how this works. I never really thought about Matthew or Mark actually writing something down with pen and paper or chisel and stone or whatever. But I guess they must have.

I kept a diary once for three weeks. He said this may take longer. When I asked what exactly this is, He just looked at me, kinda sly-like.

Who knew Jesus could be sly?

But then who knew Jesus at all? Like, personally.

I was on the bathroom floor when I first saw Him. I remember thinking the little birds in the patterned wallpaper never looked so predatory. From this vantage point, cheek sticky and pasted to the linoleum, the fat one appeared to be stalking the smaller one, biding time until it could pounce.

Then He was there. On the floor beside the toilet. Looking right at me. From the second I saw Him, I knew who He was. Still groggy from the drugs and the blood loss, I blinked to be sure—you know, in case something was in my eye, like a messiah-shaped piece of lint.

His gaze sparkled, delving deep. I felt naked. Not like that. More like an infant being held.

He said, “You’re going to die.”


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