Book Review by Aarene Storms: Dress codes for small towns

Monday, December 10, 2018

Dress Codes for Small Towns
by Courtney Stevens

*Dress Codes for Small Towns* starts with the night that Billie McCaffrey and her best friends accidentally burn down the church youth room. That sentence leads you to think some things about Billie and her friends, and those thoughts would probably be inaccurate. Preacher's kid Billie has a good relationship with God, a strained relationship with her dad, a rocky relationship with the church people, and a confusing relationship with her friends.

Billie's friend Janie Lee might be in love with their other friend Woods, which is confusing because Billie might also be in love with Woods...or with Janie Lee. Or maybe Davey? She really isn't sure. But she's pretty sure what the church people think of her.

She might be wrong.

All the stereotypes of small-town Kentucky that you've ever seen in books are not in this book -- at least, not the way you've seen them before. The characters are dimensional and lovely, and almost nobody does what you think they might do. And yet, the story makes sense, beautifully, from beginning to end.  I was especially pleased that, in this book, "church" and "belief" and "religion" are not weapons used to clobber non-conforming kids. May it be ever so in the real world.

This may be the best book I read in 2017. Highly recommended for readers ages 12 to adult. Some kissing and cussing on the page. Also some praying, some square dancing, a broken bone, and Batman.


The events may not have happened; still, the story is true.  --R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS


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