Featured Review: Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens
About This Book:
The year I was seventeen, I had five best friends…and I was in love with all of them for different reasons. Billie McCaffrey is always starting things. Like couches constructed of newspapers and two-by-fours. Like costumes made of aluminum cans and Starburst wrappers. Like trouble. This year, however, trouble comes looking for her. Her best friends, a group she calls the Hexagon, have always been schemers. They scheme for kicks and giggles. What happens when you microwave a sock? They scheme to change their small town of Otters Holt, Kentucky, for the better. Why not campaign to save the annual Harvest Festival we love so much? They scheme because they need to scheme. How can we get the most unlikely candidate elected to the town’s highest honor? But when they start scheming about love, things go sideways. In Otters Holt, love has been deﬁned only one way—girl and boy fall in love, get married, and buy a Buick, and there’s sex in there somewhere. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple. Can the Hexagon, her parents, and the town she calls home handle the real Billie McCaffrey? Author Courtney Stevens delivers an honest, funny, and endearing account of a girl coming to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and sexuality while facing the opposition that follows.
*Review Contributed By Kristie Lowry, Staff Reviewer*
A Brilliant YA Books
Seventeen-year-old Billie McCaffrey and her group, the Hexagon, are what every teenager wants: a tight-knit clan held together by history, laughter, tears, and fun. The four boys and two girls in the Hexagon all belong to the same church, and Billie’s father is that church’s youth minister. He and Billie are often at odds thanks to her unconventional way of living life: she’s a tomboy, an artist, and she is unflinching when presented with challenges of any size. Her dad, Scott, would prefer Billie look and act like his definition of a girl.
When Billie and the Hexagon burn up the youth room while under Scott’s watch, everything in little Otters Holt, Kentucky starts to go topsy-turvy. The youth room fiasco is just the start as the town also loses one of its most beloved citizens, some of the teens in the Hexagon start to look at each other as potential love interests, and the existence of the town’s claim to fame--the Harvest Festival and the annual awarding of the coveted Corn Dolly to Otters Holt’s most worthy female—is threatened.
DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS by Courtney Stevens proves that a book can be both lyrical and action-packed. Readers spend most of their time inside the head of Billie McCaffrey, and it’s a wonderful place to be. Billie’s thoughts are full of poetry, and her observations on life, love, religion, small towns, and big cities are spot-on. The other teens in the Hexagon are equally wonderful, and I appreciate that not one of them is a stereotype. Stevens examines the difficulties teens face in life and love in an unflinching manner, and the book also looks at small town life and church communities with sometimes critical but always loving eyes. Outside of the Hexagon, Stevens gives depth to the most tertiary characters, and she examines the difficulties teens and families face in life and love in an unflinching manner.
Brilliant character development is just a part of the wonder of DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS. The plot keeps moving at a perfect pace, and you never know where it’s going to take you.
I’m mourning the fact that I’ve finished DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS. I loved hanging out with Billie and the Hexagon, and Otters Holt and its inhabitants were beginning to feel like my own hometown with all of their charm and flaws. The temptation to turn back to page one and start all over again is strong with this one, but I think I’ll loan my copy out to every teen I know instead. Billie McCaffrey is a character that will stay with me without the need to read about her.
My thanks to the publisher and YA Books Central for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.