In 1969, Dixie Dupree is eleven years old and already an expert liar. Sometimes the lies are for her mama, Evie’s sake—to explain away a bruise brought on by her quick-as-lightning temper. And sometimes the lies are to spite Evie, who longs to leave her unhappy marriage in Perry County, Alabama, and return to her beloved New Hampshire. But for Dixie and her brother, Alabama is home, a place of pine-scented breezes and hot, languid afternoons.
Though Dixie is learning that the family she once believed was happy has deep fractures, even her vivid imagination couldn’t concoct the events about to unfold. Dixie records everything in her diary—her parents’ fights, her father’s drinking and his unexplained departure, and the arrival of Uncle Ray. Only when Dixie desperately needs help and is met with disbelief does she realize how much damage her past lies have done. But she has courage and a spirit that may yet prevail, forcing secrets into the open and allowing her to forgive and become whole again.
Narrated by her young heroine in a voice as sure and resonant as The Secret Life of Bees’ Lily or Bastard Out of Carolina’s Bone, Donna Everhart’s remarkable debut is a story about mothers and daughters, the guilt and pain that pass between generations, and the truths that are impossible to hide, especially from ourselves.
Author: Donna Everhart
Title: The Education of Dixie Dupree
Genre: Coming of Age
Expected Publication: October 25th, 2016 by Kensington Books
Dixie Dupree’s observations about her life and the people in it create a vivid world that is sometimes funny, sometimes agonizing, that always feels very real. She finds that life can be ugly, even brutal, and she faces it all with incredible strength and resilience.
There’s no gentle way to tell such a story such as this and still have it ring true. In this magnificent debut novel, Everhart writes with gritty realism and shines a harsh light on the ugliness of abuse. This isn’t an easy read sometimes, but stories that deal with abuse shouldn’t be easy to read. They should make the reader feel intensely uncomfortable and empathetic towards the character that suffers through it. The Education of Dixie Dupree absolutely does this. Being told through the eyes of a child makes it even more poignant and, in the end, triumphant.
Dixie Dupree, with her spirited tenacity and courage, is going to linger in my mind for quite some time.