I took a chance with Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker. I don’t read a lot of YA and I read zilch about religion. So this story about a small town girl questioning God and the Church is really out of my reading realm. But I was pleasantly surprised.
What really drew me to the book was the idea of Hell Houses. They’re like haunted houses but some places (Bible-belt American states) reenact different sins to literally scare the Jesus back into teenagers. In Small Town Sinners, the main character, Lacey Anne Byers, gets to play Abortion Girl. Other kids land roles in scenes of gay marriage, drunk driving, cyberporn and suicide. And it’s very, very gruesome. Did I mention that Hell Houses are real? Walker wrote a whole article about them for Elle Girl magazine.
I vote that they add bullying to Hell Houses if they really are successful.
But good-girl-Pastor’s-daughter Lacey Byers starts to question her beliefs when something big happens. And the pretty-boy new kid, Ty, isn’t helping either. She falls head-over-heels for Ty instantly but the romance bits are clumsy, boring and unconvincing – there’s just no spark. I’m not sure why Lacey likes Ty so much except that he’s hot. Oh, to be young again. And I have no idea why Ty likes Lacey. Absolutely none. She’s really quite boring and they seem to have nothing in common.
In short, read Small Town Sinners for the sins and forgive it for its unconvincing romance.