Sheila O’Connor’s Where No Gods Came is not one of these stories.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed reading the Minnesota Book Award winner when I was in the process. Where No Gods Came is a coming-of-age story set first, briefly, in San Diego, but then moves to Minneapolis. Faina (don’t ask me how to pronounce that) is the coming-of-ager in question, packed up and shipped, against her will, to live with her estranged, vodka-dependent mother Lenore. Mother-daughter roles quickly reverse due to Lenore’s neediness and inability to function outside their small apartment.
Meanwhile, older sister Cammie, the daughter Lenore selected in the divorce, lurks in the wings. Lenore’s previous dependence on her has idolized Cammie thoroughly, so when we finally meet this thieving woman-child, it only reinforces our perceptions of Lenore’s absence of reality. Faina may be young and Cammie’s a border-line prostitute, yet it’s not the young girls in this story that need guidance—it’s the mother….