Title: The Queen of Kentucky
Author: Alecia Whitaker
Date(s) read: July 21, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher (Paperback)
Fourteen-year-old Kentucky girl Ricki Jo Winstead, who would prefer to be called Ericka, thank you very much, is eager to shed her farmer’s daughter roots and become part of the popular crowd at her small town high school. She trades her Bible for Seventeen magazine, buys new “sophisticated” clothes and somehow manages to secure a tenuous spot at the cool kids table. She’s on top of the world, even though her best friend and the boy next door Luke says he misses “plain old Ricki Jo.”
Caught between being a country girl and wannabe country club girl, Ricki Jo begins to forget who she truly is: someone who doesn’t care what people think and who wouldn’t let a good-looking guy walk all over her. It takes a serious incident out on Luke’s farm for Ricki Jo to realize that being a true friend is more important than being popular.
Thank you to Hachette Book Group Canada for a copy of this for review!
I love fish-out-of-water stories. You know, stories where someone is taken way out of their comfort zone and thrown into something new. Like in this book, with its main character, Ricky Jo, going from her country ways to attend public school for the first time.
I really wanted to like this story more than I did, but it was very hard to connect with Ricky Jo’s character. I thought it was strange that she wanted to be called something different at school, rather than embrace the person she had been her entire life. ESPECIALLY since most people knew who she was.
It wasn’t just the fact that Ricky Jo wanted to be someone different, but that she tried so hard to be someone else that she forgot the common ways of how to act as a person — I mean, you don’t stab people in the back, you don’t fall in love with someone who CONTINUOUSLY is a jerk to you, and you don’t make friends with people who obviously don’t care for you when you have friends who are right under your nose. I felt like her character tried way too hard and would do anything to fit in, even if it meant being someone who no one could like.
Maybe it’s the fact that Ricky Jo wasn’t a strong character, but I found myself wanting to yell at her for most of the story, rather than help her along her odd little path. Mostly, I was interested in Luke’s story — I felt that his had more hints of real life to it than Ricky Jo’s. I kind of wish that the story was written with a dual narrative, so we could see the naive ways of Ricky Jo, and then see a real character with Luke.
In the end, I guess it was an okay coming-of-age story, but probably not my favourite. It’s really hard to like a story like this when the main character grates on my nerves. Luckily, the redeeming quality of Luke and how he was always willing to stick up for his friend kept me reading — even if that friend kept doing stupid things.