Orphaned at age four and raised by her black-clad, rosary-mumbling, preoccupied grandmother, Frankka discovered the ability to perform the stigmata as a way to attract her grandmother's attention. Now twenty-eight, Frankka's still using this extraordinary talent, crisscrossing the country with "The Death and Resurrection Show," a Catholic-themed traveling freak show and cast of misfits who have quickly become her new family. But when a reporter from the Los Angeles Times shows up to review the show, Frankka finds herself on the front page of the newspaper the unwitting center of a religious debate. Now unsure of who she is and where she belongs, Frankka disappears in search of herself and a place to call home.
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. (On sale May 2) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.