THE QUEEN OF KENTUCKY
A fantastic debut. Whitaker’s greatest strength is her unbelievable accuracy — she clearly remembers what it was like to be a skinny, awkward freshman dying to fit in. Her true-to-life descriptions of sleepover parties, school dances and cheerleading tryouts in rural Kentucky are masterful. This is contemporary YA at its very best — adorable, funny and perfectly relatable.
Ricky Jo is determined to change her image. This year, she’s leaving behind her little Catholic K - 8 and heading to the county high school that serves her section of Kentucky. Desperate to become part of the “fab four,” she makes her longtime best friend Luke start calling her Ericka, she updates her wardrobe and she befriends the cool, beautiful new girl from Minnesota. But when Ricky Jo begins to lose sight of the girl she was brought up to be, she might need a wake-up call to remember where she comes from, and what really matters. (POPPY, Jan., 367 pp., $17.99, HC, ISBN: 9780316125062, 12 & Up)