Small Town Sinners by Melissa C. Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Very well written, and makes an important point, but completely predictable. Lacey's grown up within an evangelical church community in a small, Southern town. Her father is the children's pastor and her friends are all church members. At the start of her junior year, a mysterious boy, Ty, arrives at the school - he seems to know things about her and he's really cute; turns out, he's Tyson, who left after Kindergarden and thus remembers her from before.
Lacey's feelings are a little confused, and her confusion spreads to include her feelings about church and God. Ty is one of the chief instigators, but events in her life also conspire to start the process. One of her main goals this year is to be cast as Abortion Girl in the church's Hell House production - she loses out to Tessa, the older sister of her best friend Stacy Jo. Then Tessa gets pregnant, and Lacey has to take over. Lacey's parents start to suggest that perhaps this isn't the best friendship, and she questions both why they feel that way and why the church's response seems to be mostly in the area of casseroles, not emotional support.
That's only one example of how her parents lay down the law, expecting unquestioning obedience, but it runs counter what Lacey thinks might (or should) be the Christian response. Yet her relationship with her father is initially portrayed as one in which she is able to talk to him - why he morphs into an uncommunicative, my-way-only parent isn't quite clear. It also seemed as though there were too many moments and events that led to Lacey's questioning, and they weren't small things either. Why there was the need to include so many Big Thing is unclear - smaller things might have resonated more.
I also wonder what the audience for this. My guess is that those that might benefit - those needing support in their questioning, who need to know it's ok to ask and not blindly follow - will not readily find this book on their library or bookstore shelves. It will be good for anyone who has been there, as it will support their questioning, and it can also serve as a way for those in more liberal environments to start to understand what those like Lacey's upbringing was like.
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