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THE PAINTERS OF LEXIEVILLE by Sharon Darrow

THE PAINTERS OF LEXIEVILLE

By Sharon Darrow

Age Range: 13 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7636-1437-8
Publisher: Candlewick

The strength of this dramatic story set in a bleak Arkansas enclave is the bond between 17-year-old Pert and her brother Jobe, who is 18. Told alternately in their voices and that of Truly, their fragile mother, the narrative effectively conveys the severe limits of their life of poverty. Only Pert has hopes of getting out, maybe going to cosmetology school in a nearby town. But when her abusive uncle threatens to destroy her dreams, violence and death follow. Several of the family seek comfort in a revivalist church, where Jobe takes up snake-handling. But even when Jobe immerses himself in religion, it’s hard to distinguish between his voice and Pert’s, which both sound too often like an educated adult, with phrases like “divine indifference.” Further eroding the narrative are the insertions of a social worker’s “home visit” forms, which distract without adding much. Readers who can’t get enough of the well-worn southern themes of poverty, dysfunctional families, and revivalist religion are the most likely audience for this dark tale. (Fiction. 13+)