South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf


***I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review***


SYNOPSIS:ย Living in Sunshine, Tennessee is not ideal if you are different and Kaycee McCoy is different. She has been in the closet all her life, but when the beautiful Bren arrives in town life as she knows it turns upside down as she learns to accept herself as a lesbian and learns that not everyone in a small town is as bigoted and homophobic as they seem.


If you’re concerned that this will be a sad lesbian book, don’t worry it’s not. Although there is a brief moment where I thought it was going to be about sad lesbians it got resolved quickly. I wanted this book to be more of a cutesy romance, but I think the theme of self-acceptance is an important one. I also appreciated that this Southern small town felt authentic because I can’t tell you how many times (especially in film and TV) people get it wrong and focus on the stereotypes that people think of. I appreciated that not everyone was wearing cowboy hats and cowboy boots and rode a horse everywhere. Although the setting felt authentic and I enjoyed the use of Southern slang throughout it did feel like the characters were stock characters and any character development felt like it happened rapidly and out of nowhere. It didn’t help that Kaycee is the narrator so she doesn’t really see the changes until it’s too late, but I would’ve appreciated more interaction with the other characters rather than her just internalizing everything. I really enjoyed that once Kaycee comes out there is varying degrees of acceptance because it made it more believable that some people would still love her completely for who she is and others would completely reject her. I also liked that although her mom still loves her for who she is, she still has worries and goes about solving those worries in the wrong way. It showed that there is hope for their relationship, but at the same time shows that she has a long way to go. You also can’t do anything set in a Southern small town without religion and I enjoyed the fact that Kaycee was still allowed to be religious and a lesbian and that she could still believe in God and think that the pastor had it all wrong in his sermon. Overall this was a cute book even though it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting and I appreciate that at its heart it had a lesbian character because f/f relationships are lacking in the YA section.

Thanks AW Teen for allowing me to read this book! Buy it here!


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