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The Queen of Kentucky

Review

The Queen of Kentucky

Ricki Jo Winstead and her best friend, Luke Foster, are no strangers to hard work and long hours toiling in the hot and humid tobacco fields of rural Kentucky. As they cut tobacco on the last day of summer vacation, Ricki Jo announces she would like to be called “Ericka” when they enter high school. Short, flat-chested and not yet starting her period, Ericka is anxious to grow up quickly. She wants to wear name-brand clothes and reinvent herself to fit in with the popular, country-club crowd that rules the school.

"THE QUEEN OF KENTUCKY is an impressive debut novel. Alecia Whitaker’s sweet and heartwarming tale about a teenage girl torn between wanting to be popular and being true to her values will resonate with teens trying to discover where they fit in."

Ricki Joe is used to family nights at the movies, reading her Bible before going to bed, attending church with her family, and driving the family tractor in fields of bluegrass. The newly invented Ericka runs with the popular crowd, keeps secrets from her parents, tries out for the cheerleading squad, and develops a major crush on the super cool bad boy David “Wolf” Wolfenbacker.

Luke just wants to be Luke, an unassuming farm boy with a protective streak when it comes to underdogs, especially Ricki Jo, and a secret that he doesn’t like to talk about. While he agrees to call her Ericka in school, it doesn’t take long before he begins to dislike the changes in her and misses the old Ricki Jo.

With the school’s annual Homecoming Dance approaching, Ericka hopes Wolf will invite her, but Mackenzie --- one of her new cheerleader friends --- is also wild for Wolf. Then there’s Laura, another cheerleader, who has her eye on Luke. While Ericka has always thought of Luke as a brother and best friend, she doesn’t want him to take Laura to the dance, but is not sure why.

As Ericka gets drawn into the inner circle of the popular group, she has to choose between leaving behind her old friends, pleasing the popular crowd and doing the right thing. When tragedy strikes, she realizes that true friendship is a rare gift, much more important than being popular or wearing name-brand clothes.

THE QUEEN OF KENTUCKY is an impressive debut novel. Alecia Whitaker’s sweet and heartwarming tale about a teenage girl torn between wanting to be popular and being true to her values will resonate with teens trying to discover where they fit in. Woven into the story are passages of Scripture, yet they are appropriate for the narrative and are not preachy. The ending is especially touching and moving. The unique voice, well-rounded characters, and positive, uplifting message make this a regal book not to be missed.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on January 22, 2012

The Queen of Kentucky
by Alecia Whitaker

  • Publication Date: January 2, 2012
  • Genres: Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Poppy
  • ISBN-10: 0316125067
  • ISBN-13: 9780316125062