Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

Word Lily review

Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker (Bloomsbury USA Children’s, July 19, 2011), 288 pages

Lacey Anne Byer’s a preacher’s kid and has never really rebelled. But there are some things she hasn’t quite told her parents yet. She really, really wants the lead – Abortion Girl — in her church’s annual Hell House. And then a new boy arrives in town.

To me, Small Town Sinners is mostly the story of a teenager beginning to make her faith her own. She questions what she’s always been taught, sees discrepancies between words and actions of the church.

Quote: “‘Lacey Anne,’ says Ty, ‘the God I know welcomes questions. He welcomes doubts. He welcomes criticisms of His kingdom when things aren’t just or fair.'” (page 158)

In some ways, I could relate to Lacey Anne. I grew up in the Church, my dad’s a pastor. Something I had, though, that Lacey Anne doesn’t have for most of Small Town Sinners is parents who gave me space to ask the whys and hows.

Lacey Anne believes that if she doesn’t believe exactly as her parents do, then that the relationship is harmed. And her parents don’t respond well when she even begins to pose a question; they give her pat answers, regurgitations. And get angry. As I read, I mourned that her parents didn’t give her that space for growth.

I, like Lacey Anne, see so much of life in shades of gray rather than merely black and white. Yes, there are some things that are definite. But there are many things that just … aren’t.

Other thoughts:

• I kind of loved that they used their personal prayer language as vocal warm-ups.

• The whole Hell House thing. Ugh. I wish the Church didn’t feel the need to make “Christian” versions of all things secular. From T-shirts to haunted houses, the Church has been in copy-cat mode for centuries now. Why can’t we create something original? That feels like a dead horse, though. *wry grin* There’s more I could say about Hell Houses, but I’m not going there today.

• I was excited to read it, but this book didn’t really live up to my expectations.

• Ty felt like a plot ploy. I wish she would have had the courage to walk this road without a romantic partner.

• The cover is really nice!

Rating: 3 stars

About the author
Melissa Walker (@MelissaCWalker) has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. She’s the author of the Violet on the Runway series as well as Lovestruck Summer. Melissa manages a daily newsletter, I Heart Daily, and handles blogging for, an online book community that won the 2009 National Book Award for Innovations in Reading.

Other Faith & Fiction Posts about Small Town Sinners
My Friend Amy
Books & Movies
3 R’s Blog
Ignorant Historian
Book Addiction
Book Hooked Blog
My Random Thoughts
Tina’s Book Reviews

I received this book from the publisher as part of the Faith & Fiction Round Table. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links. Quote(s) are from an uncorrected advance proof and have not been verified with the final version of the book.


13 responses to “Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

  1. A lot of parents think their kids are supposed to think exactly like them in religion and politics and I just don’t get it.

    • Admittedly, I’m not a parent. I do understand it’s hard to give that freedom. But if you want them to really own their faith (or whatever beliefs), you have to let them question.

  2. As a parent – and as someone who was raised in the church on a regurgitated faith (love that word!) – I know that I can’t expect my kids to have a personal faith unless they have freedom to ask questions.

  3. I am posting on Tuesday – I am behind and have just finished. It did not live up to be as good as I thought, but I found it interesting – I had never heard of Hell House before.

  4. Children need to be encouraged to question everything — not just religion.

  5. I like the idea of this, though it seems to strike every reader very differently.

  6. Pingback: Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker (via Word Lily) « It's A Beautiful Life!

  7. Pingback: Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker (via Word Lily) « It's A Beautiful Life!

  8. THis one sounds good although the parents sound like those that I keep telling myself I will not become!

  9. Pingback: Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker « Book Journey

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