Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander

The Sweetheart of Prosper County
I first heard about The Sweetheart of Prosper County from the 2010-2011 Texas Lone Star Reading List. After reading the description, I couldn't help but put it towards the top of my TBR. A couple of things caught my eye: (1.) It's set in small town Texas. (2.) It features a girl involved with FFA.

Austin Gray's goal for the next year is to be the FFA (Future Farmers of America) Sweetheart and ride of the hood of a pickup in next year's Christmas parade. Austin sets out gung-ho to reach her goal by joining FFA and getting a rooster to raise, but is hampered by the town bully and her overprotective mother. You see, Austin's mother still grieves for Austin's father who died in a car accident six years ago. Through the events of the story, Austin gains a better understanding for her mother and together the two begin to work through the pain of losing her father.

At first glance, one may think Austin's goal is a bit shallow, but come on, this IS a teen. It's EXACTLY the sort of goal a girl of 14/15 would have. She really wants to be accepted by her classmates and is looking for a niche. There is a ton of work involved in caring for an animal, so she shows more dedication towards reaching her goal than just a superficial one. I adored the characters -- some quirky, some determined, some shallow. They all felt real! The description of small town Texas life was dead-on, including the glimpse of the politics of the town.

I've already begun to recommend this book to many students and can't wait to recommend to many others. It's a story that those living in a rural town will recognize and those that don't will get a glimpse of the real rural life -- more than the stereotypes. Jill Alexander has made my "watch" list. I will definitely be looking for more from her in the future.  This is a strong 'B+' for me, Super!

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