Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
Release Date: July 19, 2011
Genre: Contemporary YA
The Story: 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.
My Review: As someone who grew up in the south, I was completely and totally pleased with the voice of Lacey. Her beliefs and way of thinking is eerily familiar to what I remember as a teenager in rural North Carolina. Although we didn't have Hell House, the messages sound familiar and I'm quite sure there was something similar to this going on at a local church that I didn't attend.
Every character in this novel resonated with me. Their struggles and personalities felt entirely authentic and I appreciated the consistency. The story is told through the eyes of Lacey. At one point her friend Ty tells her that she's "passionate" and I couldn't agree more. Even when you don't agree with someone's point of view or what they believe in, there's something utterly respectable in someone who is truly passionate about their beliefs. There is something even more respectable about those people when they realize that even their own beliefs can change and being able to accept that change.
This is a fantastic story about choices and learning that not everything is black and white. Lacey learns that through the help of friends and I loved every minute of it. Melissa Walker is definitely an author I'm interested in reading more from and I would recommend this book to anyone. It's really, really well done.