Published by Candlewick Press
on May 8, 2012
Source: Received an e-ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. Read my review policy/disclosure here.
Content: more language that a typical YA and some drunken hook up scenes
My summary: Paige always looked forward to her senior year, to being a homecoming princess with her best friends Nikki and Lacey. But after the girls are involved in a drunk driving accident at the end of their junior year, Paige is shipped off to Paris to toil as an au pair -- more Cinderella than princess. When she returns, nothing is quite what she expects. Her friends have changed, her boyfriend seems different, the new creative writing teacher wants her to dig deep and write about her life, and there's a new kid in class who seems to think that she's way more than just a pretty girl on a float.
My take: There's a lot going on in this book. It begins with a stream-of consciousness monologue about how easy it is to find yourself drunk behind the wheel of a car. Then we're with Paige as she arrives at the airport from her summer in Paris.
It took me a while to warm up to Paige. Initially self-centered and a little snobby, she wants to put the drunk driving incident behind her and have a picture-perfect senior year. That's not going to happen. Her friend Lacey has spent the summer in surgery and physical therapy after the accident. Paige's boyfriend Jake seems to have spent a lot of time "being there" for Lacey while Paige was away.
Paige ends up in a creative writing class taught by the handsome and dynamic Mr. Tremont, who is one part John Keating from Dead Poet's Society and one part Ms. Finney from The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger.
There are a LOT of issues crammed into this book: drunk driving, homophobia, small town prejudice, near date rape, parental pressure. All important issues, but just when I'd get invested in one, the book would veer off in a different direction. I did like the way that change wasn't easy for Paige. And by the end, I was rooting for her to sort everything out.
Published by: Poppy/Little Brown Books for Young Readers
On: January 2, 2012
My summary: Ricki Jo can't wait to start her freshman year of high school. She knows she can be popular, if only she can get her family and best friend Luke to remember to call her Ericka. Then she just has to find friends, make the cheerleading squad, and be sure no one at school thinks she's a hick.
My take: This book was absolutely adorable! You could call it borderline middle grade, as the main character is only fourteen and hasn't hit puberty. But I fell completely in love with Ricki Jo. Debut author Alecia Whitaker is a twenty-first century Beverly Cleary. Queen of Kentucky is simple, touching, funny, heartfelt, and true to life.
I think just about every reader will recognize themselves in Ricki Jo. She studies Seventeen magazine as religiously as the Bible. She's worried that the country club girls at her school will think a farm girl like her is a hick. She has two normal, overprotective parents, plus a Mamaw and Papaw who shamelessly embarrass her in public. She makes friends who disappoint her at times. She falls for the absolute wrong boy and doesn't realize it. She has the absolute right boy under her nose and doesn't realize it.
Queen of Kentucky was an absolute pleasure to read -- I'm putting it on the stack of books that I'm saving for my daughter.
Readathon update: I finished Insurgent and am 45% done with Dead Time by Anne Cassidy.
Tell me in comments: what are you reading right now?