The Compulsive Reader: Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Monday, August 1, 2011

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

It is Lacey Anne Byer's ambition to play Abortion Girl this year in her church's annual Hell House production. It's a part she's sure she can nail, and she knows that Hell House will be an amazing ministry to her community. But just about the time that she snags the role, things start to get complicated in Lacey's life. She discovers that her best friend's older sister is pregnant, her other best friend Dean is being bullied--and no one is doing a thing about it, and a childhood friend, Ty Davis, returns to town with some secrets of his own. As the practices for Hell House heat up and Lacey gets closer and closer to Ty, Lacey's doubts build up, forcing her to grapple with her faith for the first time in her life.

Melissa Walker offers a very interesting perspective on an Evangelical community in Small Town Sinners. She does an excellent job at portraying Lacey and her friends in a way that makes them realistic and normal, just more religious and connected to their church community than the teenagers that dominate the YA genre. Of course, faith and uncertainty and questioning what you believe in are all major themes in this book as situations unfold that touch Lacey personally, and the reactions (and sometimes hypocrisy) of her friends, parents, and other members of the community force her to realize that right and wrong aren't so simple, and black and white don't exist in this gray world. Readers can empathize with Lacey on this, especially as she struggles to do what she has always been taught was right while at the same time figuring out what that really is. This novel represents just one denomination of Christianity whose viewpoints and utilization of the Hell House as a "ministry" are very extreme (and wrong) in this reviewer's opinion, but the important message in Small Town Sinners is that we all sin, and are all in need of forgiveness. The events of this story are eye-opening, for both Lacey and for the reader.

Cover Comments: I love this cover so much! The girl hiding her face, the symbolism of the apple and the choice associated with it, the heart-shaped bite, the font...this is just a fabulous cover!

ARC provided by publisher.
plusone tag -->


Ellie (The Reading Girl) said...

I just finished this book recently, and I was very impressed. Most people find the religion aspect a turn-off, but I thought the author handled it perfectly-- I could really connect to Lacey in her doubt and confusion. And the cover is so right for the story, I agree!

By the way, I just found your blog via a good friend, and it's my favorite so far!

sunnynikki said...

I've been looking forward to this book, it looks really good. I'm just waiting for my to read list to diminish a little.

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

This sounds like a very interesting read!