From Publishers Weekly
The traditions of Catholicism and the sideshow come together in this earnest but fresh journey through the travails of a performing stigmatic. As an orphaned child raised by her devout Catholic but inattentive grandmother, Frances Catherine (Frankka) discovered she could make her palms bleed spontaneously when she grew hungry. When her musician friend Tony learns of her skill, they hit the road as a performance troupe, and soon form the titular show along with a collection of misfits and mystics: the levitating drag queen Madre Pia, the diva acrobat Magdalena, the fortuneteller Lupe, the bearded lady Paula and the gentle Italian fire-eater Barbaro. When the L.A. Times breaks the story of Frankka's strange skill, the troupe is mobbed by fanatical crowds, and Frankka, feeling betrayed, flees to the mountains of California, where she meets a Catholic spiritual mentor, Dorothy. Punctuating the narrative with stories of the saints, Gore (Atlas of the Human Heart, a memoir) depicts Frankka's religious reawakening with both irreverence and respect for tradition and faith. Predictably, Frankka's spiritual journey leads her to reconfront her troupe family, and the show goes on, with love, drama and reconciliation in its wake.
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Gore's debut centers around Frankka, a 28-year-old woman who is able to bleed at will from stigmata-like scars on her palms. Orphaned at age four, Frankka first discovered her gift as a child when she prayed for a way to restore her grandmother's failing faith. Frankka now uses her gift in "The Death and Resurrection" show, a small traveling troupe that tours the U.S. performing in various cities, big and small. Frankka is hardly the only oddball in the group--there's a bearded lady and a man who can breathe fire, among the performers--but it is her gift that draws the attention of a Los Angeles Times reporter who writes a piece on Frankka's gift and exposes her to the ire of religious fanatics. Thinking someone in her group has betrayed her, Frankka flees to the woods of California, looking for both an escape from the attention and an answer to her spiritual crisis. Piercing and insightful, Gore's first novel limns one woman's complicated relationship with her religion and her personal faith. Kristine Huntley
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