Tags: MG, YA, South, small town, bullies, friendship
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
15-year-old Austin Gray is tired of being a nobody, of always being made fun of by her classmate, Dean Ottmer. She decides that the only way for her to be elevated above the taunts is to become a “sweetheart” in their Texas town’s annual Christmas parade, actually taking part and being looked up to.
With the help of some new and old friends, Austin sets about obtaining the qualities she needs to be sweetheart material: she raises a rooster named Charles Dickens, tries her hand at hunting, and befriends junior members of the Future Farmers of America, who include the former FFA sweetheart and a sweet, cute budding cowboy. Part of Austin’s journey to become sweetheart, however, means convincing her overprotective mother, who is still mourning the death of Austin’s dad many years ago, to let her grow a little.
I’m always on the lookout for books featuring farm, rural, small-town, or Southern fresh-faced girls, but THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTY blows the competition right out of the water. The people of this quirky small town in Prosper County are funny, charming, and absolutely unforgettable.
The characters steal the show for this super sweet book. Austin is a relatable protagonist, with her desires to not be made fun of, to step out of the crowd and be a winner for once. Her actions may cause us to cringe, remembering the bad decisions we made as an uncertain teen, but ultimately Austin pulls through and becomes a character to fall in love with.
The plot is equal parts gut-achingly funny and poignant, the plot of THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTY is sure to satisfy. Along with a group of interesting and well-developed friends, Austin navigates the slightly absurd process of achieving a sweetheart nomination. The result is a fun, fast-paced story that loses none of its sweetness or credibility.
All in all, I adored THE SWEETHEART OF PROSPER COUNTY. Austin makes a fantastically believable and lovable protagonist, and the plot and supporting characters live up to the main character’s strength as well. This is a fantastic pick if you love funny, small-town Southern charm reminiscent of Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s Dairy Queen series. Check it out!
Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Dairy Queen)
Jenny Han (Shug)
Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - It's hit-or-miss at first sight--it would be a miss for me at first--but after reading and loving the book, the cover cracks me up! It's completely adorable and fitting for this quirky story. I'll never be able to look at a rooster again without thinking, "Charles Dickens!"