Reading time: 1 ½ minutes –
Get ready to fall in love with Dixie Dupree. It won’t be love at first sight. She’s turning over her diary as key evidence against her uncle when we first meet her in chapter one. But along the way toward the story’s conclusion, as you discover why she releases her diary, you won’t be able to help falling for this precocious little wonder from Alabama.
Dixie is eleven when the story takes place in 1969, but this isn’t a mid-grade or YA book. Like Scout in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (which also finds its home in the Deep South, but about 40 years earlier), Dixie is a child conquering grown-up issues.
Her mother, Evie, avoids the truth at all costs. She misses her carefree life in New Hampshire. Or maybe she just doesn’t like her married life in Alabama. I’ll let you judge which is more powerful in her mind. But one consequence of her truth-avoidance is that she has raised a child who knows more about lying that loving. Dixie will soon take a shot at turning that equation around, and you’ll enjoy being a spectator.
Dixie’s father, Charles, has issues of his own that will eventually shatter Dixie’s world. While she thought she was at the center of a happy family, she slowly sees the fissures forming. Those fissures become deep fractures with the arrival of Uncle Ray. All these challenges combine to give Dixie an education she never asked for or wanted.
The cruel honesty of Dixie Dupree will force you to keep turning the pages so you can see the title character resolve her issues. While her first solution is to become an expert liar, she ultimately learns more valuable lessons. In the end, the truth is impossible to hide and it’s bittersweet when it finally comes to the surface. But you’ll be happy for the read.
I generally read mystery and suspense novels, so this was a grand departure for me. That said, I’m thrilled to have read it and I heartily recommend it. You won’t be disappointed. If you’re in St. Louis, The Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves is a great little indie bookstore. And they provide us space for our Sisters in Crime critique group.