Author: Jill S. Alexander
Published: September 1, 2009
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Cover Score: A+ (worthy of a Cover Love post)
Overall Grade: A-
Fifteen year old Austin Gray is tired of being invisible. She's sick of being bullied by Dean Ottmer, sick of her grieving mother overprotecting her every move, and sick of standing at the curb and watching the parade go by--literally. That's when Austin decides that this year, she's going to be in the parade. She decides that this year, she'll be crowned Sweetheart of Prosper County, and she'll ride on the hood of a shiny truck, waving at the crowd. But first, she'll have to take part in the Future Farmers of America club, which means raising a chicken to show in the county fair. Add onto that a temperamental rooster named Charles Dickens, a cute cowboy, a "mysterious Cajun outcast", new friends, old friends, and bullies....Austin's got one heck of a year in front of her.
My thoughts: If I could use three adjectives to describe this new release, they would be sweet, warm-hearted, and genuine, because this book was exactly that. Overflowing with Southern charm, this story is honest, funny, and bittersweet all at the same time.
The characters were what made it so special to me. They were all different, quirky, and just so much fun to read about. Austin herself was a fantastically-created character, who seemed realistic and brave. I loved the narration, you could really "hear" her voice.
I also enjoyed how well-crafted the plot was. Carefully woven with lots of different plot threads, the story was so much more interesting than just a one-dimensional story. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the story was not just about raising a chicken. It had many layers, and dealt with bullying, grief, friendship, family, and much more.
I was a bit disappointed by the ending, though. It seemed a bit abrupt and awkward, really. If the last chapter of the book could just be a bit shorter, then I think I would've been more satisfied instead of being a bit irked.
Overall, The Sweetheart of Prosper County was a great, charming read that I would recommend to readers, ages 12 and older, who want a smooth, entertaining, and well-written read.
Must-Read! Check it Out!! Don't Bother