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
By: Courtney Stevens
On Sale: August 22nd, 2017
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