Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Review: Small Town Sinners

Small Town Sinners
Melissa Walker
2011; Bloomsbury; ISBN 978-1-59990-527-3 (hardcover)

Summary:  Lacey Anne Byer is a good girl.  She listens to her parents, does well in school, and is a strong supporter of her church.  In fact, Lacey can't wait to audition for a part in Hell House, her church's haunted house of sin.  But then, things start changing for Lacey.  Ty, a childhood friend who's returned to town, encourages her to question what she's been told in church as he stirs romantic feelings in her.  Her best friend's older sister gets pregnant out of wedlock.  Another friend is bullied by a schoolmate, one who doesn't get punished for his actions.  Lacey can't talk to her parents about all these new questions she has.  Instead, she will be on her own to find the answers that make sense to her.

A thought-provoking look at an evangelical coming-of-age, Small Town Sinners is also a very clean novel.  Lacey and her friends Starla Joy and Dean seem very innocent, their interactions from another time.  It might feel dated and out-of-place, yet as the reader sees how conservative and prescribed Lacey's world is, this innocence makes more sense.  Ty and Lacey's conversations about faith and sin may lean towards the didactic, yet Melissa Walker manages to keep the focus on Lacey's journey.  For readers who are curious about their own beliefs or anyone looking for insight into a different way of life, Small Town Sinners is a great choice.

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