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Small Town Sinners

Small Town Sinners
by Melissa Walker

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. (goodreads.com)

I feel like I have been waiting for this book forever. I am not someone who likes contemporary YA novels. I prefer to read stories about paranormal whatnots and serial killers and mental institutions and paranormals… you get the idea. Melissa Walker is probably the only YA author who has consistently made me love normal people stories. Her Violet series captured my attention, why? I don’t know. But I loved and shared my love of that series with the world. I lent the books to coworkers for their daughters, I hand sold the books to people in the YA sections of bookstores. I adored them.

When Melissa published Lovestruck Summer I was nervous. I don’t like romance stories whether they be adult or YA. I didn’t think I would like it at all but I bought it because the one thing that stuck with me from the Violet books was how wonderful the characters were. I was honestly surprised with how much I enjoyed Lovestruck Summer and happy that I took the chance on it despite it not being a genre I would have read otherwise.

Cut to Small Town Sinners – just knowing there was a new Melissa Walker book on the horizon made me giddy, then I read what it was about and knew I was going to want to devour it in one sitting.

That happened today. My order came in from Book Depository and I put aside everything else I was doing, reading, internetting and just sat and read from 11:30 – 1:30. I then opened my laptop back up and sent Melissa an email that started:

FIVE BILLION STARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously! This book is so… thought provoking? Passionate? Raw? Real? Just, brilliant, really.

Books about religion are not my cup of tea unless they are presented in such a way that is not preachy, but thoughtful. I didn’t grow up with such a strict religious background. My family and town were pretty liberal Catholics. Though I was sheltered from a lot, just because it wasn’t happening around us, nothing was ever taboo. (Well, except for, like, killing people and stuff. You know the really bad things.) However growing up in Catholic schools pretty much meant I knew nothing about other religions. Had I known then, as a child and teen, that there were places that put on things like Hell Houses or were that unforgiving about all sorts of acts, I think I would have thought it was all a myth to scare children into behaving. Even now I find it so unbelievable. I have had my own battles with faith and what I believe throughout my life and well, this book is excellent at portraying what people, especially teens, can go through to try and figure out who they are and what they believe.

Melissa Walker writes such fantastic characters that are real and likeable and relatable. She’s sort of the YA Sarah Addison Allen in that way (I always love her characters!) I read her books FOR the characters and this book just happened to have a very interesting subject for a plot and it was riveting.

This is the type of book that makes me want to hold discussions with various people about why and what they believe and if they truly believe in this Hell House creation and why people always seem to think their religion is better than the other when it seems pretty obvious it all stems from the same place. I just don’t get that. But this isn’t about me, it’s about how this book made me think about all of that and want to explore it more and yet… it’s not really about religion at all. It’s about people and growth and friendships and trying to figure out what the right thing to do it. The right answer.

Would be nice if life came with a standard set of answers, wouldn’t it? But it doesn’t, so this coming of age novel is just wonderful in its exploration of that. Family, friends and faith, three things that don’t always work well together and yet Lacey tries her best to weave them all together around her.

I am so very happy I read this novel and I am so very thankful to Melissa for writing it. This is certainly a YA novel that is a must read for all.

4 comments to Small Town Sinners

  • I loved this one SO much! It was so fabulous. religious books sometimes send me running in the other direction, fast, but this one was so fabulous 🙂 I haven’t read anything else by Melissa, I feel like I need to remedy this fast.

    • Cat

      ERICA!! Go and read the other Melissa books NOW! I think you would like Lovestruck Summer a lot, but my favourites were the Violet series. I think Small Town Sinners trumps Violet though! This is one of those GOOD religion-subject books, if that’s possible. It’s not very religiousy, more like, food for thought.

  • I have never heard of this author before. I am glad you loved it so much!

  • I haven’t read anything by Melissa Walker, but I’ve been eying this one for awhile since I first heard about it last summer. Definitely looking forward to checking it out now.