The Queen of Kentucky
Poppy; imprint edition
January 2, 2012
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Determined to reinvent, Ricki Jo decides she's going to be called Ericka and make all new friends, the right friends.
But leaving 4-H Ricki Jo who helps out on her best friend's tobacco farm behind for Ericka who hangs with the cheerleaders, has the right clothes and the best date for homecoming might be harder than she thought. And it might change her more than she thought, too.
Queen of Kentucky was a cute read. There aren't a lot of (contemporary) books that are set in the South that don't either a) have wealthy, debutante characters throwing some ball or something or b) make fun of their characters. Whitaker's debut does neither of those things (well, some of the characters might be debs in a few years, I'm not sure - but they aren't in the book).
That Luke's (Ricki Jo/Ericka's best friend) family and previously Ricki Jo's family are tobacco farmers is definitely a unique addition to the novel. It definitely fits well with the geography and gives Ricki Jo something to want to change about herself.
I'm not sure about how well the characters (especially Ricki Jo/Ericka) developed over the course of the book. It's understandable that she is only fourteen and also getting used to high school but it was hard to understand the way she reacted to characters (one in particular0 and their actions - towards others, yes, but especially towards her. There were several instances when I was sure she was going to be done with some of them, but things didn't seem to really bother her that much.
I don't know if she was not supposed to have enough self esteem to see that she could do better than that or if those things weren't supposed to be viewed as that bad . . . or what. If the characters had apologized more - in some cases at all - or there'd been more time, I think it would have been easier for me to see the other characters as sympathetic and understand Ericka sticking with them.
The story overall, as well as Ricki Jo working to find how she fit in as this new - and just how new she wanted to be - person in high school, Ericka was pretty cute. The ending was definitely one of the book's strong points and something that those characters definitely deserved.
Thank you to Faye at LBYR for the eGalley of this on NetGalley