Best Book I’ve read this year! Dress Codes For Small Towns by Courtney Stevens ] Spoiler-Free #BookReview

Dress Codes for Small Towns is an endearing young adult fictional romantic contemporary novel about a tomboy teenage girl finding herself among the rumor-mill of a small town. Courtney Stevens starts an interesting conversation about gender, sexuality, friendship, love, expectations, perceptions, identity, and family.

Dress Codes for Small Towns

 

Dress Codes For Small Towns

By: Courtney Stevens

On Sale: August 22nd, 2017

http://www.courtneycstevens.com/

 

Eight year old Elizabeth “Billie” McCaffrey is aware that she doesn’t fit in with most girls. She bonds with Woods Carrington, and over the next nine years they form a tight-knit group of misfit friends. They call themselves the hexagon; Billie, Janie Lee Miller (the pixie), Woods “Woods” Carrington (the president), Robert “Fifty” Tilghman (the douchebag), Kevin “Mash” Vilmer (the puker) and Mash’s cousin, David “Davey” Winters (the pretender).

Billie’s father, Scott McCaffrey, is the preacher of Otters Holt, a small town in western Kentucky. In an effort to keep teens on the “right track” Brother McCaffrey has set up a youth room in the church filled with fun things to keep the teens entertained and out of trouble. Ironically, the hexagon accidentally set the youth room on fire. While in the parking lot waiting for the fire to be put out the kids find out that Tyson “Big T” Vilmer, Davey and Mash’s grandfather, has died.

Big T was the financial backing for the Harvest Festival, and now that he has died there is talk around town that the festival will not be happening anymore. The Harvest Festival is when the mayor picks the winner of the corn dolly, awarded to the most “deserving” woman who will then be the first to dance at the Sadie Hawkins dance. Many women strive to win the corn dolly, many men are proud of their women who win, or even get nominated.

Due to the destruction the hexagon have done to the church with the fire they are given the punishment of construction – helping elderly people around town with odd jobs. Woods then gets the bright idea that the hexagon will help raise money to save the Harvest Festival.

While the hexagon attempt to save the Harvest Festival Billie is discovering the difference between friendship love, and love love. She feels incredibly confused about her gender and sexuality. Being the daughter of a preacher doesn’t make anything easier. I adore Billie’s character, even when she’s making bad decisions I’m always routing for her to prove that girls can do anything.

Janie is one of my favorite character’s. She’s not your typical “pixie” girl. Her father is in jail, her mom runs a laundromat but there are rumors she sells drugs. Janie is counting down to when she will leave Otters Holt.

Honestly, I loved every character. I can see pieces of me in each one. At first they appear to be a straight-forward stereotype, but with each chapter Stevens unveils how complicated the characters are. I would read a novel about each of their lives. For example, Fifty seems to be the stereotypical teenage boy attracted to danger – but then we find out he has four older brothers, so his idea of showing love is shoving, punching, wrestling. I can’t help but wonder what is going on in his mind? What is his life like?

I laughed, I cried, I held my breath in anticipation and pulled my hair in frustration. I think this is an important read for everyone over the age of fourteen, and highly recommend you check this one out!

I was kindly sent an advance reader’s e-proof courtesy of the publisher HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

 

“The degree to which a person can grow is directly proportional to the amount of truth he can accept about himself without running away.” ~ Leland Val Van De Wall

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Spoiler-Free Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – MUST READ

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It’s been a long time since I read a book that impacted me as much as Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE 14 years old +. I teared up while reading every single chapter. I had two good cries in the tub after a few chapters. This story will affect you no matter what age or what race you are.

In case you’ve never heard of Jodi Picoult before, she is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of twenty-five novels.

Here is a little bit of the book blurb on cover: “Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene? Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case…”

The story is separated into five parts:
1. Stage One, Early Labor: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Benjamin Franklin

2. Stage One, Active Labor: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin

3. Stage One, Transition: “The piano keys are black and white but they sound like a million colors in your mind.” Maria Cristina Mena

4. Stage Two, Pushing: “She wanted to get at the hate of them all, to pry at it and work at it until she found a little chink, and then pull out a pebble or a stone or a brick and then part of the wall, and, once started, the whole edifice might roar down and be done away with.” Ray Bradbury

5. Stage Three, Afterbirth (six years later): “People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” Nelson Mandela

The story begins from Ruth’s perspective as a child, spending a snow day with her mom at her job as a cleaning lady for a rich white family, the Hallowells. Ruth witnesses her mother helping Ms. Mina give birth to her baby early, at home, and Ruth grows up to become a labor and delivery nurse.

“On the day before classes were supposed to start, Mama took me out to dinner. “You’re destined to do small great things,” she told me. “Just like Dr. King said.” She was referring to one of her favorite quotes: If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

We also get to hear the story from Turk’s perspective, the white supremacist father of baby Davis who dies. I have to admit, I hated Turk from the get-go, but as the story went on, I got to learn more about his past, his mindset, his motivations, and wondered…if he could learn to hate, could he learn to love?

The public defender assigned to Ruth’s case, Kennedy McQuarrie was the perspective of the white person who thinks they aren’t racist, but find out the small things they do and say are actually racist. She may not be a jerk like Turk (I found it funny that his name rhymed with jerk), but she, like myself and many other white people, tend to ignore instances where an African American is treated unfairly. If we do not stand up, if we are not outraged, we are making it more acceptable and we are part of the problem.

One of my favorite quotes in Small Great Things is, “Pride is an evil dragon; it sleeps underneath your heart and then roars when you need silence.”

This story helped me let go of my pride so that I could better understand my own ignorance. It has opened my eyes to realize I must do a better job standing up for everyone’s rights, no matter what color we are.

READ THIS BOOK. Absolutely a 5 star read for me. I feel like this book belongs in every high school library, and part of the curriculum. SUCH an important read – make time for this one!

 

 

#Diverseathon TBR January 22-29

I’m excited to be taking part in Diverseathon January 22nd to January 29th!

I’m going to be reading…

the-underground-railroad The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Book Blurb: “Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.”

I will also be reading…

man-gone-downMan Gone Down by Michael Thomas

This novel won the International Dublin Literary Award in 2009. Blurb from Amazon: “On the eve of his thirty-fifth birthday, the unnamed black narrator of Man Gone Down finds himself broke, estranged from his white wife and three children, and living in the bedroom of a friendโ€™s six-year-old child. He has four days to come up with the money to keep the kids in school and make a down payment on an apartment for them in which to live. As we slip between his childhood in inner city Boston and present-day New York City, we learn of a life marked by abuse, abandonment, raging alcoholism, and the best and worst intentions of a supposedly integrated America. This is a story of the American Dream gone awry, about what itโ€™s like to feel preprogrammed to fail in life and the urge to escape that sentence.”

For more info about Diverseathon check out https://twitter.com/hashtag/diverseathon

Also, check out Youtubers, such as my favourite Booktuber SavidgeReads: