Such great, great things going on with my friend Melissa– her wonderful book, SMALL TOWN SINNERS has gotten great press, including a review from the New York Times! (SQUEE!)
Seriously, this is one you want to go check out, because it’s that rarest of things: a fantastic contemporary novel that is both relevant right now and will endure and become timeless.
“A devilishly good read.” —Lauren Myracle, NY Times bestselling author of Shine
SMALL TOWN SINNERS
A NOVEL OF FAITH, FRIENDSHIP AND FAMILY
BY RESPECTED MAGAZINE EDITOR
New York (Winter 2011)— Inspired by an article on Hell Houses (haunted houses of sin) she wrote for ELLEgirl magazine, journalist Melissa Walker set out to delve deeper into the culture of this phenomenon, as well as the community that creates them. The result: Small Town Sinners (July), a universal story of first love and finding your voice set against the backdrop of extreme religion. This thought-provoking, touching story of faith in family, friends and self will have readers endlessly talking about and sharing this break-out novel.
“I was so intrigued by the small town I traveled to and the warmth of all the teenagers I met, plus their obvious passion for this production, that I had to revisit that world,” said Walker.
Hell Houses are often run by fundamentalist Christian churches and emphasize the belief that anyone who does not accept Christ as their personal savior is condemned to Hell. The way they often work is that a script is written covering a variety of sins each of which is performed within its own vignette in its own room in the house. A guide leads the visitors through each room acting as narrator. The performances have a controversial tone focusing on issues such as abortion, suicide, drinking and drug use, premarital sex, and homosexuality. Hell Houses usually take place in the fall.
Small Town Sinners is the story of Lacey Anne, daughter of the pastor and perennial good girl, who is eligible for a lead role in the season’s Hell House production—a role she’s been coveting for years. But when Ty moves to town as casting begins, a new perspective is added to Lacey Anne’s world and she starts to see her tight-knit, Evangelical community in a different light. With the help of her two best friends Starla Joy and Dean, and her potential first love Ty, Lacey Anne begins exploring her own thoughts and feelings about her religion, her community, and her place within both. While this novel deals with provocative issues like religion, teen pregnancy and underage drinking, it is not an “issue” book; the topics are masterfully interwoven into this story of friendship and family.
Early readers agree:
“Small Town Sinners shines a light on the fascinating world of the teenage Hell House. Sit back and let Melissa Walker be your guide. She writes without a shred of judgment and plenty of heart.” —Dana Reinhardt, author of A Brief Chapter of My Impossible Life
“Walker is sympathetic and respectful of her characters’ faith, while putting on display the shocking extremist scare tactics that make Hell Houses, well, hellish.” —Donna Freitas, author of This Gorgeous Game and The Possibilities of Sainthood.
“A non-judgmental, nuanced, fascinating look at the teenage religious right… Walker writes an outstanding contemporary novel with a cast of characters who, far from being portrayed as hateful zealots, are relatable for readers of all faiths. The extremism of Hell House is tempered by the perfectly understandable attitudes and intentions of Lacey Anne, who struggles with what it means to grow up, to question and to think for herself.” –Romantic Times
“Both tender and provocative… Walker creates an astutely balanced portrait of a conservative congregation’s in-your-face response to perennial issues of domestic abuse, teen pregnancy, and suicide, as well as of those who struggle to fit the prescribed Christian mold.” –Publishers Weekly
“This secular story about religious people could easily devolve into camp mockery, but because Walker takes her character’s crisis of faith seriously and sensitively, readers will, too.” –Kirkus Reviews
MELISSA WALKER: Melissa has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. She is the author of the Violet on the Runway series as well as Lovestruck Summer. Melissa manages I Heart Daily, an e-newsletter and blogs for ReaderGirlz, an online community for teens. http://www.melissacwalker.com