I imagine that my response to hearing about the details of the real life events were similar to Walker's when she first heard about the concept - shocked. Nonetheless, Walked did an excellent job of showing us this aspect through the eyes of Lacey Anne and her friends who have grown up with the event and see it as being part of the "big picture" to draw people into the church.
Throughout I was horrified but trying to understand what it was like from the community's point of view. Then there's Ty, someone who lived in the town as a child, moved away, and recently returned. He comes with an outsider's perspective and brings up questions about the tradition, making Lacey think and wonder rather than blindly accepting. Many events surround the year this particular year's Hell House, all leading Lacey to reflect more than before. While she looks to her parents, her friends, and Ty to navigate her thoughts, I appreciated that this coming of age story portrayed balance, rather than a sharp shift to one side. Lacey's emotions and actions seemed to accurately reflect an authentic experience.
I can't wait to see what Walker will write next. I still have to read the second two books in the Violet series, but I enjoyed the first as well as her Lovestruck Summer. Each of the three are unique. Right now the Kindle edition of Small Town Sinners is $2.51. I am not sure how long it will be at that price, but I could hardly believe my luck when I saw the deal!