Published: January 2, 2012 (Poppy)
Source: ARC from publisher
GoodReads Summary: Fourteen-year-old Kentucky girl Ricki Jo Winstead, who would preferred 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.
My Thoughts: I started out annoyed with Ricki Jo. But then I remembered: she's 14. I was THE most annoying 14 year old in existence. And once I accepted this, I totally related to Ricki Jo. You guys, this book is PAINFULLY relatable. It hit me on a very personal level, because I WAS THAT GIRL. I was awkward and an outcast who wanted more than anything to be popular. I had no idea who I was and changed myself and the way I acted to be accepted. I was the cheerleader who wasn't that great who was in love with the boy who was out of my league, thanks to high school stereotyping.
This was such a quick read. Ricki Jo is so naive and self-involved, but that's what makes it a great book. You cringe watching her make the mistakes and bad decisions. Your heart breaks along with hers when she is ridiculed time and time again. Alecia Whitaker did such an amazing job putting that insecure, uncertain teenager girl on paper and guiding her into her own after so many pitfalls.
And can we talk about Ricki Jo's friends? Well, "friends." Bitches be trippin'. I hated them and yet SO understood why she wanted to be like them and be liked by them. And the object of her affection? UGH. I wanted to swoop in and slap her wrist for CONTINUING to confess her undying love for him even after he was so awful to her. HELLO? BEST FRIEND LUKE? Sure, he's been there forever and you guys probably picked your boogers together, but hey, he's grown up a little bit and loves who you are and wait, when did that growth spurt happen and I guess maybe he's kinda cute, probably. See? DECISION MADE. But it just wouldn't be a good book without the MC making an absolute fool out of herself before finding out that what she wants has been there all along.
I am surprised at my love for this book. I was expecting it to be all superficial and "lyk, OmG," but you guys... there is some shockingly heavy subject matter within. Not to mention a part about a dog that broke my heart and wrenched my gut. The severity of some situations balanced out the superficiality and made this a fun, heartfelt read.
Ricki Jo. Girl. YOU ARE 14 YEAR OLD ME WITH COWBOY BOOTS.