Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
June 15, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Chalktown

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Melinda Haynes
genre
Fiction
We gave it a B-

The premise of a sleepy Southern town whose inhabitants communicate by writing messages on chalkboards hints at lovely gothic strangeness; the characters who visit that town — a young truant boy and his learning-disabled brother — seem picked from delightful, eccentric Southern central casting. But Haynes’ whimsical idea doesn’t hold up for long, despite some graceful turns of phrase. It’s a slippery slope from weird-and-wonderful to cliched-and-annoying, and one that the author — whose first novel, Mother of Pearl, was an Oprah pick — sadly plunges down.

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