The Education of Dixie Dupree

Written by Donna Everhart
Review by Bryan Dumas

Alabama, 1969. “I wrote: I’ve lied to get Mama out of trouble—once again—this time to someone in the U.S. Government! I’m embarrassed Ms. Upchurch came here. Maybe it means we’re just what Mama fears so much, plain old, common white trash.” For Dixie Dupree, her journal means everything to her and ultimately it will become her only savior. Eleven-year-old Dixie is trying to find meaning in a family that is slowly unraveling, an uncle who comes in as a their rescuer but hides a dark, malevolent nature, and her own coming of age: “Dear God,” she prays, “Please think again about the boobs growing on my chest.”  Dixie learns to lie for fun, but also for her own survival; those little lies will also prevent her from finding any allies as she struggles to reveal a family secret that has gone on too long.

Reader’s note first: This is a disturbingly tough read. Everhart does not mince words when dealing with physical and emotional abuse. What is even more powerful is Everhart’s ability to do all that through a young girl’s eyes and words. This is a dark, haunting book that will linger with you for days, but despite the heaviness of the book, Dixie is a witty, charismatic burst of energy and sunshine who readers will want to rescue themselves. A remarkable story of the triumph of will, and a great coming-of-age novel.