Book Review: Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Title: Small Town Sinners
Author: Melissa Walker
Details: ARC, Published in Hardcover, 259 pgs.
Published: July 19th, 2011 by Bloomsbury
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Gifted to me


The story of Lacey Anne Byers, a small town girl who is excited to star in Hell House, her church’s annual haunted house of sin, until a childhood friend reappears and makes her question her faith.

When I got this book in a box of books gifted to me I was really excited about it.  I grew up in a very religious home and had extremely strict parents.  Now that I’ve read the book I can say that my religious upbringing was quite a lot different.  But I still found myself relating to so many things that Lacey was going through.  
Lacey is very religious.  She’s bought everything sold to her by her pastor father and hasn’t questioned any of the beliefs.  This book was about her seeing that everything isn’t black and white.  And we really see her grow as she realizes this.   I didn’t always like Lacey, she was so strong in her beliefs in the beginning and I just wanted to smack some sense into her.  But with the little help of a cute new boy realization slowly dawns that she needs to form her own beliefs.  With that I began to like her more.  
This was one of those books that you want to scream at because of the idiocy of people.  The hypocrisy in their beliefs and ways.  I remember growing up and not being allowed to spend time with my friends from school and only being allowed to go with church friends.  My parents seemed to think that my school friends were a bad influence.  But just because one friend had multi colored hair and multiple piercings didn’t mean she did drugs.  And in truth the church friends were the ones doing the drugs and my other friend never touched them!  I know my parents were trying to do what they thought was right, but it was very frustrating for me.  Although nothing like that exactly happens in the book it still brought that to mind.  
Although religion is very heavy through the book it’s not pro religion nor against it.  I would say the author wrote it in a neutral type position and just helped point out that things aren’t black and white.   The book is not preachy, but keep in mind that Lacey is very religious and we hear a lot of that from her.  In my opinion the author did a brilliant job in creating a story that many can relate to even if their own experience is actually quite different.  

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Disclosure: I received this an ARC of this from another blogger as a gift.  All opinions stated are my own and I was not paid or compensated in anyway.
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  1. Although my mom wasn’t hyper-religious, she also judged my friends incorrectly. The friend she liked a lot was trying to get me to have sex at 14, while the “bad” friend was telling me not to make the same mistakes she did. I think most teens see things in black and white, whether based on religious terms or not (I know I certainly did), so this book sounds true to life. Being able to see shades of gray is a sign that you’re starting to grow up.

  2. I grew up being forced to go to church and participate in church activities. I was miserable. The girls didn’t like me because I was different and my parents didn’t really care. The preacher’s kids were the most delinquent I’ve ever met. I wonder if the author ever met a preacher’s kids. In any case, I think I’ll see if my library has a copy of this one. I love to see characters get their beliefs all shook up. It took until college before I escaped.


  3. I’ve wanted to read this one for a while, but I don’t think I ever actually took a minute to read exactly what it was about. That, or I was completely oblivious to the religious aspects of it. That doesn’t turn me off though. I love reading stories that present religion in a neutral perspective, that show how it’s a part of a character’s life, but doesn’t preach it. Coming from a family that isn’t hugely religious, the viewpoint that Small Town Sinners shows is entirely different from the one I was raised with. Even though my dad is pretty conservative, my mom was always cool with odd hairstyles, piercings, etcs.

    I’ll have to check this one out though. It sounds really good.

  4. I’m glad that you mentioned that this book isn’t preachy nor anti-religion, because I just can’t get into a book that is either of those things. It sounds like this is a great story with some fundamental truth to it that is handled tastefully, and I look forward to reading it. Great review. :)

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