Lacey Anne Byer is a perennial good girl and lifelong member of the House of Enlightenment, the Evangelical church in her small town. With her driver’s license in hand and the chance to try out for a lead role in Hell House, her church’s annual haunted house of sin, Lacey’s junior year is looking promising. But when a cute new stranger comes to town, something begins to stir inside her. Ty Davis doesn’t know the sweet, shy Lacey Anne Byer everyone else does. With Ty, Lacey could reinvent herself. As her feelings for Ty make Lacey test her boundaries, events surrounding Hell House make her question her religion. –(summary from Goodreads)
My Thoughts: Okay, you guys, a book like this one is a perfect example of why I am so glad I am doing this Contemporary Month: I have found a new author to love! Small Town Sinners is the second book I have read by Melissa C. Walker. I picked it up just minutes after finishing her latest book, Unbreak My Heart (featured here tomorrow). What I have learned from these two books is that this author is not afraid to tackle the big stuff, and she does it in a way that makes you feel complete intensity and yet you aren’t turned off by what she is throwing at you. I’m amazed by this.
Lacey Anne Byer is the 16-year-old daughter of super-strict parents. She’s a good girl, the kind who has a ‘family’ birthday party instead of a ‘regular’ party, complete with red velvet cupcakes and the gift of a new Bible instead of a car. With BFF’s Starla Joy and Dean by her side, Lacey Anne cruises thru life helping the church to win souls and genuinely maintaining her squeaky clean image. She has always dreamed of having one big movie moment in her life, something defining. She is more than thrilled that she is finally old enough to try out for the role of Abortion Girl at the annual production of Hell House, which is put on by her church, the House of Enlightenment.
Ok – I want to stop here for one second because things are about to get REAL. As in, Hell House (aka Judgment House) does exist. It’s a production put on in various places across the US (and possibly other places) using various scenarios to show a crowd different kinds of sin and the effects of that particular sin, and then Satan comes out to address the audience. My experience – yes, experience – with these events is that they are usually around Halloween and people come in by the bus and vanloads, are shuffled through in groups, one after another, for several nights. These scenarios may be things like a car accident where someone dies, a suicide, or Lacey Anne’s ever-coveted role, the Abortion Girl. (This is not me judging or offering one viewpoint or another on these places – I’m simply saying they exist and this is a very limited summary of my experience with them.)
So while Lacey Anne studies the lines, practices, and tries out for the role of Abortion Girl, some things are happening around her tightly-structured and controlled community of friends. Lacey begins to want more freedom associated with turning 16 and driving, she begins a new relationship with a boy, and one of her friends becomes pregnant. Lacey notices through all of this, as she soldiers on with Hell House’s production, that her parents seem to become more controlling of her and more judgmental of the people around her. She begins to wonder if they’ve always been this judgmental and she’s never seen it (meaning she may be judgmental too) or are they NOT practicing what they preach? I’m telling you, it’s big stuff.
Books Containing Issues: tons of issues!
Small Town Sinners by Melissa C. Walker
is currently available for purchase.
What did you think?