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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2006

    Highly recommend

    This novel was most outstanding! I'm not really a big reader but when I read the first chapter, I was hooked. I couldn't put it down for five minutes. I'm the type of person who can't get into a book unless it's really interesting thourghout the whole book but Chalktown caught my attention because of all the emotional conflicts between the Sheehand family and all of the personal secrets that every character had. I was dissapointed when I read the last few pages, it just didn't really seem like a true ending to Chalktown but, other than that, Chalktown is a novel I highly recommend to anyone.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    strong period piece

    In 1961, CHALKTOWN, Mississippi is a tiny village consisting of mostly a dirt road lined by the shanty homes of sharecroppers. Families communicate with their neighbors mostly through chalkboards that hang off the front porches of their houses. <P>Just down a spell from CHALKTOWN lives the dysfunctional and impoverish Sheehand family, whose patriarch deserted them several years ago. Abusive mother Susan loosely raises her three children. However, in reality, the nearest thing to positive nurturing is sixteen year old teenager Hezekiah, who tries to help his rash sister Arena and his mentally incompetent brother Yellababy. <P> However, Hez seeks adventure perhaps to hide from his dismal existence. With Yellababy tied to his back, he journeys to the local metropolis of CHALKTOWN, planning to uncover the mysteries of the community as a means of escaping his gloomy present and his ugly past with seemingly nothing but a drab helpless future to come. However, with the hopefulness of the young, he will still seek a brighter future. <P>CHALKTOWN is a period piece that brings to life the late fifties and early sixties in rural Mississippi. However, the story line is that and more as it is a coming of age tale as Hez finds the eternal optimism of youth that one person can change the future for the better. With this novel and MOTHER OF PEARL, Melinda Haynes is stepping closer to earning the Faulkner mantle of consistent superb writer of the Southern novel. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2001

    Powerful and very moving

    I found that the book explored so many themes of forgiveness and redemption. I would highly recommend this book for many. The characters within the story are so eccentric and interesting. It is one of those books that impacts far beyond finishing the last page.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2001

    Mini Odessy, the great journey

    The book Chalktown exists for me on several levels; one of them was as a highly personal experience, but then reading for me in an internal experience. I love the voice of Melinda Haynes. It is first that of an obviously deeply read and educated woman, but then there is something of a little girl looking at a world through a window that her mother has expressly forbidden her to look out, or listening in on coversations of people who have forgotten there is a child in the next room. Even her stark opening scene of a teenage boy who is on his way to becoming very much a man, but is still caught up in an innocence where f(Barnes and Noble will not let me us a word here that the author has this character uses without comprehension of the difference between love and sex)k is a concept and not a reality that he can understand yet, comes from that perspective. She has this lively way of leading you on the same road that said boy is walking down with a severly retarded and jaundiced brother strapped to his back and his heart. They are walking into a world that is both the author's imagination and so real it is hard to believe it is fiction. When I first heard the premise that Chalktown was this town that people talked to each other on chalkboards, I didn't understand how it could possibly work, but then I walked there led by Haynes. If some one lists the line of events it seems almost a litany of grotesqueries; then I started listing the details of 'Normal' families I know, including a very middle class Bostonian family(ultra normal on surface, despite Irish roots (Irish here)), where-in, suicide, child abuse, sibling abuse, retardation, denial, divorvce, cruelty, betrayal, and eventually a redemptive transition for one of that family and happiness for the other survivor were a reality more unreal that which has been called in Haynes, and others trapped in similar geography, Southern Gothic. She sets her novel in the 1950s, at a time that the South was an amazing confluence of confusions, almost as complex as the human mind. She took a family that escaped average, though it didn't need to, as evidenced by the proto-feminist nymph of a aunt who could sit, spit and cuss with the guys on the corner, but could also make love with the man most needing a lover. The reader travels a road that in was reminds me of that traveled in 'As I lay Dying,' but without the threnody of Presbyterian Predestination found in Faulkner. Haynes accepts hope. I loved the book. It is one you can read aloud to someone else.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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