In the tradition of Fannie Flagg and Lorna Landvik, The Saints and Sinners of Okay County is a heartfelt and compelling debut novel with an unforgettable heroine. It’s the story of a woman whose ability to see the futures of others leads her right back into her own troubled past.
It’s the summer of 1976, and it seems like the entire state of Oklahoma is celebrating America’s bicentennial. But in the small town of Okay, Aletta Honor has much more on her mind than flags and fireworks. She’s pregnant with her fourth child and hasn’t seen her husband, Jimmy, in weeks. Although she can guess where the hound dog has parked his red-white-and-blue van—in front of the local gin mill or outside the home of yet another woman for a little Yankee Doodle Diddle. Discretion is not in the man’s constitution.
Flat broke and desperate for some cash, Aletta decides to set up a food stand on the front lawn during the Okay Czech Festival. But when a woman touches her hand in sympathy, Aletta is completely unsettled. She never touches anyone outside her family—if she does, she gets overwhelming visions of their lives and futures. It started when she was a young girl and has scared her ever since. Now Aletta immediately sees the woman in a tragic accident, and gives her a warning that will save her life. When the woman returns the next day to thank her, Aletta figures out how to save her own life.
With all the courage she can muster—figuring the townsfolk will most likely think she’s nuts—she puts a sign in the front yard: ALETTA HONOR. PSYCHIC READER. DROP-INS WELCOME. But doing readings for people opens a door she thought she had locked long ago, as memories of a terrible event come flooding back. She may not be able to see into her future, but she realizes she must face the demons in her past if she’s going to make a new life for herself and her kids. First, though, she’ll have to tell a few fortunes. . . .
Poignant, touching, and full of the kind of wisdom that can only come straight out of the heartland, Dayna Dunbar’s The Saints and Sinners of Okay County is a wonderful novel of a woman who confronts pain in order to reclaim her belief in herself, lay her past to rest, and bring order back to a life that has veered too far off track.