Donna Everhart’s debut novel, available in large print, like any novel about childhood abuse, is hard to read. This one is even more so because it is told from the child’s point of view. From the opening of the story, we know that Dixie’s Uncle Ray is in jail. As the plot unfolds, Eleven year old Dixie’s “spidey sense” that something is just “not right,” alerts the reader to expect the worst. Dixie and her brother, AJ, already have a rough life living with a depressed mother who has anger issues and a father who drinks to escape. Set in Alabama in 1969, Dixie struggles with the need to lie to cover for her mother and to keep the other girls at school from labeling her family as “white trash.” She becomes a deliberate and accomplished tale-teller, resorting to lies even when they aren’t necessary. When she tries to tell AJ and later her mother what Uncle Ray has done, no one will believe her. Seldom have I met a heroine so young with such spirit and courage.
This is a difficult book to read as it peels away layers of family secrets leading to the eventual harsh ending. There is a ray of hope at the end, one thing I require of any book I read before I will say it is a good book. This is not an enjoyable book but one that book clubs and individuals might take on to open thoughts or discussions about a very serious problem.