The Education of Dixie Dupree By Donna Everhart

The Education of Dixie Dupree

by Donna Everhart

PBR Book Review:

(by- Linda ) Narrated by the sweet young voice of Dixie Dupree, this book captures the small town Alabama life of a dysfunctional family in 1969. Dixie's father drinks, her mother has a hair trigger temper, money is tight, her support system is unreliable; but amazingly, this young girl manages to remain optimistic. As such, the book tackles many problems of poverty and a broken family, showing how abused children deal with these stresses and many times feel responsible and confused about who they can trust. Adults are often in denial or so engulfed in their own struggles they are not able to help.

Book Club Talking Points:

Dixie Dupree, an 11 year old with an idyllic voice and a heart full of passion, narrates this book. But dig a little into her life and you find many forms of child abuse. Why is it that parental love is sometimes not enough to stop or prevent child abuse? There is also a lot of insight into how a child rationalizes what is happening and caregivers often do not have the presence of mind to notice, thus the abuse continues. What role does poverty play in Dixie's troubles?

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*Discussion Questions

1. Early on the reader learns that Evie loves her children - yet she can't control her temper and takes it out on Dixie, sometimes severely. Why can't the mother see the harm she is doing? What does she gain from abusing Dixie.

2. Evie's dream was to move back to her home-town, she was very un-happy with her with her current circumstances. What role, if any, do you think this played in her relationship with her children? Do you think this played any role in her husband's decision to end his life?

3. Why is Dixie's brother not as much of a target?

4. There are many forms of child abuse; physical, mental, 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?

5. Dixie's attitude remained constant through out 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?

6. There were many people in Dixie's life who could have helped her. Her father, grandparents, school teachers - yet no one did. Why do you think this is? Do you think they did or should have known that there were problems? Her mother in particular had a history with her brother, Dixie's uncle- and should have know better yet took no overt action to insure Dixie's safety. What emotions does the child abuse this elicit in you?

7. 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 ower to help her. Why did she lie to adulabout her situation instead of speaking up? What motivated her to keep quiet.

8. Why do you think Dixie's father took his own life? From Dixie's perspective, was this the same as abandonment?

(Questions by PBR. Please feel free to use them with acknowledgment.)

Book Summary

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.
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