A blog reader mentioned a book to me by the author Donna Everhart. I had already read the book. I ended up picking another of her books, The Education of Dixie Dupree, and invited all of you to read it along with me.
I liked the book. I am a person who appreciates coming-of-age stories. As I read I am often silently screaming to the characters, don’t do that…I know it’s going to be a bad choice. I might also yell, “tell an adult”. I think we can all find a little of ourselves in a coming-of-age story.
Here are a few questions for you to consider:
–Dixie’s attitude remained constant throughout the book. It was one of hope and optimism- even when her life was unraveling. She made excuses for the bad behavior she witnessed and experienced. Do you think this is common to all abused children? Is this because she only knew the life she lived and so didn’t know any better?
-There were several times when Dixie thought seriously about telling an adult about her problem. She ended up telling her brother, who didn’t believe her and also had, no real power to help her. Why did she lie to adults about her situation instead of speaking up? What motivated her to keep quiet.
-There are many forms of child abuse; physical, mental, and sexual. Discuss child abuse in general and then specifically as it relates to Dixie. Do you think poverty is a catalyst for any form of child abuse? Do you think child abuse stems from being mentally unstable, and if so, is this an excuse for her actions?
I didn’t know how I felt about Evelyn, the mother in the story. Part of me wanted to grab her and shake her. If she herself was abused by her brother, how could she not think that he would abuse her daughter? That seemed overwhelmingly naive to me. Plus, how could she be so abusive to Dixie? I know abuse is a begets abuse, but her parents seemed kind and supportive. I don’t feel abusive tendencies came from them. I want to like her Evelyn and I don’t know why. I think she was in a terrible place mentally, emotionally, and financially, but I have a hard time giving that her a pass.
Somehow, I don’t feel the abuse and the naivety on Evelyn’s part would not continue should the story go on, and I feel hopeful about it.
On a side note, I have to wonder about how Dixie was treated in the hospital. I certainly hope rape victims get better treatment nowadays.
For those of you who didn’t get a chance to read the book here is what Amazon had to say:
“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, 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 the 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.”
Amazon readers gave the book 4.3 stars. I’m going to agree with the 4.3 rating. I liked the book but at times wanted to scream at Evelyn a little too much.
If you are interested, you can find the book HERE.
If you read the book, please leave a comment. You can answer one of the questions or you can simply let us know what you thought of it.
Please note when I pick books, I just pick them and hope they are good. I’m totally welcome to suggestions you’d like to read for Book Club.