I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is April 1, 2016.
In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes, ma’am” when the local bigots gossip at her mom’s cosmetics salon, and avoiding certain girls at all costs. Girls like Bren Dawson. Unlike Kaycee, Bren doesn’t really conceal who she is. But as the cool, worldly new girl, nobody at school seems to give her any trouble. Maybe there’s no harm if Kaycee gets closer to her too, as long as she can keep that part of her life a secret, especially from her family and her best friend. But the more serious things get with Bren, the harder it is to hide from everyone else. Kaycee knows Sunshine has a darker side for people like her, and she’s risking everything for the chance to truly be herself.
This book made me mad. Not many books make me mad, so I was trying to think about just why this book made me so mad. I was born and raised in a Southern town. Apparently, this author grew up in Tennessee, but I find it hard to believe that she has been there in the last thirty years or so. There were SO MANY exaggerated stereotypes of Southerners that I just got pissed off and it interfered with my enjoyment of the story. Now there are racists who live in the South. Obviously. I'm sure a lot of you thought, "DUH." But here's the thing: the racism of 2016 is SO MUCH MORE SUBTLE from what was in this book. The people in this book thought nothing of calling people derogatory names. There was also some rivalry between some white kids and some black kids and the white kids refused to hang out with the black kids just because they were black. Yeah, that would not happen. The people of the South are not the type to treat a minority any differently to their face. Nope, doesn't happen. (Yeah, I know I'm not really making Southerners look great, but just bear with me. SOME Southerners are awesome. I know a few of them. I AM one of them. But some of them are like that). Also, Kaycee mentioned that people didn't care if a girl was gay if she lived in a trailer park. Nope, not true either. If there are people in the South who don't like gay people (and there are PLENTY of those), class does not make any difference.
And do you know how many times Kaycee called the people around her rednecks or bigots? Probably as many times as she mentioned her "secret feelings." Oh wait . . . is Kaycee gay? Does she have "secret feelings" that she is trying to hide? Yeah, it's real easy to get that impression because she only mentions it EVERY PARAGRAPH. Seriously, WE GET IT. YOU'RE GAY. Let's move on, okay? Okay, and I hated the introduction of Bren so freaking much. First of all, Bren comes from Zimbabwe and the entire school is freaking in love with her. Let's ignore the fact that people in the South would normally be more suspicious of a nonwhite person coming from another country, ESPECIALLY the Southerners in this book. Yeah, but it doesn't make sense that everyone in the entire school would be in love with her just because she's new and she's beautiful.
Besides the fact that she mentioned her "secret feelings" thirty times within the first ten pages, I hated Kaycee for other reasons, namely her treatment of a girl named Chelsea. Yeah, I assume Chelsea had big breasts because they called her "Chesty." That freaking pissed me off. Then she called Chelsea a skank and a bitch and a heifer for flirting. Really?? Also, Kaycee was a bit of a hypocrite. She spends most of the book denying her sexuality, but then she criticizes Chelsea for denying the fact that she was a bisexual. Okay, whatever. But every time Kaycee said "Chesty," (which was a LOT) I just wanted to smack her.
So all of these issues occurred within the first 10% of the book and I was so close to DNF'ing it. Then I just read it as fast as possible to get it over with. There really wasn't a whole lot of relationship development. I wasn't even that emotionally invested in Kaycee's coming out because it was all political. She mentioned the politics of it a lot, as opposed to the emotion that would come with going against what your entire town thinks is wrong. This book was just kind of boring and very, very infuriating.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Just skip it. Please.