A delightful romantic white trashy book.
Hud (nickname) and Tuesday (actual name) met as teenagers with big dreams of escaping their small Nebraska town. He wanted to be a country singer and she dreamed of pursuing her art in Paris. Instead, they married when Tuesday became pregnant and tried to make it all work. She's an art teacher and he drives a school bus, playing his quirky brand of country music in bars and hotel lounges. Seventeen years later, they've finally divorced, but Hud still hopes to reconcile...when he's not fantasizing about kidnapping their 8-year-old daughter. As the story slowly progresses, we get glimpses of the ways they've tried to make it work, and all the ways they've screwed up. The main casualty of their dysfunction is 17-year-old Gatling, the unplanned first child, who has run away with an "alternative Gospel punk" band called The Daughters of God (hence the title).
Also woven into the novel are the stories of two other families that have fallen apart. Ozzie and Jenny were close friends of Hud and Tuesday, with a daughter just a year younger than Gatling. After Jenny died, Ozzie lost touch with reality and his daughter, Charlotte, became involved with Gatling, with rather disastrous results. The Schrock family's tragedy takes place mostly off-stage and prior to the main action of the story, which opens with town's morbid celebration of Robbie Schrock's execution for the murder of his two young sons following a nasty custody battle.
Set in Nebraska, Schaffert creates a quirky vibe with characters who tend to wear vintage clothing and watch old movies. The teenagers in town are susceptible to hell-and-brimstone religion with a touch of rockabilly. Everyone smokes and drinks (except the 8-year-old). There's a brief mention of the title characters from The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters, which I started reading, but abandoned because I couldn't find enough substance to match the quirk. Also, an off-screen character has the entrepreneurial scheme of taking aerial photographs of farms and then selling them to the farmers, just like a character in The Coffins of Little Hope.
Schaffert's characters are often self-centered and childish, screwing up again and again, but he still manages to make them sympathetic. The plot is a little sleepy and drifting, and the time frame was hard for me to follow. Overall, it was a decent book, but not as impressive as The Coffins of Little Hope.