Jul 25, 2011

Review - Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker (+ Giveaway)


Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
July 19th, 2011 from Bloomsbury

Synopsis:
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.

Review:
What a refreshing book! I honestly don't think I've read anything like this story. I know of a few recent YAs that have religious undertones, but this is the first (for me) where the overall theme is faith and sin. This story reminds me a lot of my own childhood. I grew up in a strict Christian home and I found myself wanting to rebel the second I turned 14.  I was just like Lacey, I wanted to find my own way and start to make decisions based on what I believed, and not necessarily what was drilled into my head since the day I was born. I must say that Lacey has a great head on her shoulders. She knows when she reaches a crossroad and takes time to weigh out the choices. Me? I dove right in and thought of the consequences later. Lacey is much smarter than I was. When Ty, a boy who questions everything and has a secret past, comes along she starts to realize that maybe not everything is black and white, so cut and dry. There may be shades of gray and decisions need to be made based on the surrounding circumstances. 

By the synopsis, you might think this book is all about Ty and Lacey and the temptations of sex. While that does come up a few times, the Hell House (a church production of sinful horrors that shows devastating consequences - read HERE for an example) setting explores a variety of "sins" that young adults face every day -pre-marital sex, alcohol, drugs, and porn. Some of these issues come close to home for Lacey and her friends, and while we aren't too surprised of which way the opinion meter goes here, Walker does balance things with the help of Ty and his ideas about faith. He doesn't exactly stand behind the church on every topic and we see Ty and Lacey have some really deep and meaningful conversations. It is during these times in the park where I love the characters most. They are vulnerable and open to each others differing thoughts and they have intelligent discussions on some pretty heavy stuff. Walker gives these characters depth and presented them as complex and bright individuals. The alone time in the dark could have easily turned into sexy time, but Walker stayed true to Lacey's character and kept her integrity in tact. It just made me love Ty even more...

We watch Lacey basically grow up in the year that we know her. She is the perfect obedient child at day one and disregards her own individual thoughts while being guided by her overprotective father. When we part with Lacey a year later, we watch her navigate her own way with the help of what she knows to be true and the welcome advice of her father.

4.5 Stars

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You can find Melissa on her website, blog, and Twitter.

I have an extra review copy up for grabs! Melissa will be at the Austin Teen Book Festival this year! I'll be there along with about 100 other TX bloggers...hope to see you there!

UPDATE! Melissa is kind enough to send a SIGNED bookplate to the winner! *cheers*

*giveaway closed*

32 comments:

  1. Thanks for the chance to win this book! I have heard lots of great things about it and love your review! I have just started to really enjoy contemporary YA and I think this will be a great read!

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  2. I really want to read this book! It's a topic that's hitting close to home right now and I think it'll provide a new persepctive. Great review!

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  3. I've been hearing more about this book, and it sounds really interesting. I'm curious to see what opinions are presented on these harder issues and how Walker handles the conversations. Thanks for the review and the chance to win!

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  4. This is a lovely review. I too remember going through the period of questioning the faith you grew up having drilled into you your whole life. I'm excited to pick this book up and discover Lacey's journey.

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  5. I'm excited about this one! Your review was great!

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  6. What a refreshing change. So many of the YA books right now are darker, don't get me wrong I totally enjoy them and want more but something different is so nice to see. Great review, it make me want to check the book out even more!

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  7. I probably never would have heard about this book if it weren't for your blog. I'm looking forward to reading about this "haunted house of sin." We went to haunted houses when we were kids, but they weren't anything like this sounds. It sounds so interesting, I'm putting it on my wish list right now!

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  8. Wonderful review. I never heard of the book until now and it sounds like a fun read. Thanks for such a nice review. :)

    ChiKittie(at)gmail(dot)com
    http://syco4twilight.blogspot.com/

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  9. Oooh, I'm so happy you liked it!!! I saw this book in a lot of people's mailboxes this past week and it looks super good! I was worried about the whole religious aspect because I don't like those kind of "inspirational" books, but your review makes it sound like the religion part isn't too bad and that's it's really good. Great review and thanks for the giveaway!

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  10. Thanks for the wonderful review! I love how Small Town Sinners has been gaining many positive reviews and I've been looking forward to reading this novel as well. It's too bad that my local Chapters still doesn't have the novel in their stores... I might have to order it so I can finally read it!

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  11. I've heard really great things about this book, thanks for the awesome review and the chance to win it. I really hope I win, i want to read this book.

    :]

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  12. I want to read this book and then share it with the youth group at my church. I thank Melissa for stepping outside the box and telling a story that is so true with our youth of today.

    I hope I win this book! Happy Reading :)

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  13. Great review. Sounds like an interesting read. :0)

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  14. I can't wait to read this book. I have requested that my library purchase it, but they tend to not buy based on my recommendations.

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  15. So excited about The Austin Teen Book Festival. Can't wait to maybe meet Melissa there.

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  16. Interesting book. I think I can relate with Lacey. I think most of us had a point in our lives that we want to rebel, try stuffs, etc.

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  17. I've been seeing so much buzz about this book. I can't wait to read it. It was in Teen Vogue's Top Summer reads!

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  18. I'm excited to read this book, too. I have to come clean and admit that I also write YA and my new release, OyMG, is also about religion and faith, so I have a natural interest. But Melissa's book sounds so thoughtful and thought-provoking: that's exactly the kind of story I love to read and see on the shelves. Thanks!

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  19. Perfect time to read this review! I'm starting it tonight! I'm SUPER happy you enjoyed it! And of course, great review!

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  20. This book seems like it would be a great read and I really like the cover art!

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  21. This book sounds really good. I haven't seen many books with a religious undertone. I know the feeling wanting to rebel, I went to 3 different catholic schools from prek -8 and I found myself wanting to be different. So I pilled on the dark make up lmao. People thought i was goth, but i was just making a statement.My school was full of people who hollister and abercrombie was the rage, and i was the one girl who shopped at hot topic listened to alternative, while the rest where all some dumb pop singer. sorry for my rambling!

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  22. Sounds like a great book to share with my 14 yo! The title is very catchy and so is the cover. It sounds like a balanced book and I am looking forward to reading it! Thanks for sharing!

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  23. Great review! Having been raised in the bible belt, I know all about evangelicals and growing up with kids that believe almost anything is a sin that could send them to hell. Definitely adding this to my to read list!

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  24. This sounds like an amazing book! I love reading really raw stories like this that aren't afraid to push the limits. Your review is great, really honest!! I CAN'T WAIT TO READ THIS :)

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  25. I have read a few books this year that definitely had the Christian undertones in it and I have come to really enjoy almost all of them. Like you and the main character of this book, I was faced with strict Christian beliefs as a child. My aunt often took care of me so everything she thought and believed soon became my thoughts and beliefs. When I got older and was able to take care of myself I realized not everything she believed in was what I needed to believe in as well. It was all a matter of finding a balance between what I was brought up to think of as right and wrong to what my own opinions of right and wrong are. Great review. I can't wait to read this one!

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  26. Just found out about your blog from Twitter, and it looks really awesome! I will definitely start following you :) Thanks so much for the giveaway!

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  27. I can't wait to read this. I'm really interested to see the journey of someone having trouble with their faith. This is something you almost never see in YA.

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  28. I love that this sounds like it's a "real" look at the struggle for balance kids face today -- I think a lot of time, it's really easy for YA (or any novels, for that matter) to idealize characters/responses/etc, and write "the perfect world" - but this one sounds like something I'd expect to see kids wrestling with anywhere, anytime. Great review! :o)

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  29. The cover had me from the start. I like to try reading different things and really would Love to read this one. Thanks for a chance at a great giveaway! Looks like a refreshing read.

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  30. I have been really looking forward to this one. It seems like it could be such an awesome book! I'm REALLY glad to hear that you liked it so well!! :)

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  31. I can't say how fantastic this book is--it's superb!

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  32. So glad you liked this. I've seen lots of positive reviews for this book and am hoping to check it out soon :)

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