The Education of Dixie Dupree
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.
“Most of the characters in The Education of Dixie Dupree face some kind of hell—domestic violence and abuse, insidious family secrets, alcoholism, loneliness, isolation, depression. But the novel is not a dire read—though it tackles the bad and ugly parts of what it means to be a struggling family in 1960s Alabama, Dixie, the story’s protagonist, has a way of celebrating the good parts, too. Her child-like perception, razor-sharp and unblunted, integrates the story. She makes a child’s sense of her trapped mother’s misery and her remote father’s failure, and in doing so, provides a view of her family’s inner workings that is not at all childish or simplistic. It’s Dixie’s innocent wisdom that is at stake in the story, and that’s what makes the violence against her all the more palpable and distressing.” –Susan Sechrist, Bloom