The Stillburrow Crush by Linda Kage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Carrie Paxton has got a mouth on her, that's for sure. The size of her snark is rivalled only by that of the chip on her shoulder about her family's status in her little Kansas townn. Her dad's the town mechanic (I think she seriously calls him a grease monkey at one point), who married an upper-cruster when she got pregnant back in high school. Mom's never really gotten over that, and her sense of shame (and over-compensating perfectionism) has been passed down to her two children. So Carrie's pretty suspicious when the handsome qb of the football team seems to actually reciprocate her crush. She deals with that by some major pre-emptive bitchiness, and honestly I found her pretty hard to like for the first half of the book. It wasn't just how mean she talked, she seemed pretty doggone self-centered, too. But books are about redemption and growth (at least this one is), and in the second half, Carrie, and the author really come through. I honestly read this looking for a fluff break after some intense reading experiences, but it turns out to be pretty darn poignant, with themes of family, growing into emotional maturity and self acceptance taking the forefront. The book is artfully structured, with secrets and issues revealing themselves and unfolding in an emotionally satisfying and moving way that had me going "Oh! Now I get it," at some crucial points. It's got a small town feel and vibe to it, and it's not a gigantic big overwhelming emotional assault. It's a quiet one that sneaks up on you, but still packs an emotional wallop. Don't let the title fool you or put you off, this is a lovely and thoughtful book, with funny and tender elements.
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