Dress Codes for Small Towns

352p. HarperCollins. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062398512.
Gr 9 Up—Billie McCaffrey likes making epitaphs for herself. Though she's not always sure what her gravestone will say, she's certain that it will be in Otters Holt, KY, and she's proud of that. Another thing she's proud of? Her group of friends. Lovingly dubbed the Hexagon, they are all joined at the hip. After a prank gone wrong, Billie has to examine her identity as her friends begin to look closer at the oddities that they had previously dismissed. Navigating gender expression and sexuality, this is a book about love—the kind you find in friendships and romantic relationships—and how confusing it can be to understand the difference between the two. The book has a large cast, and two of the six friends unfortunately fall to the wayside, not getting quite the depth that Billie, Woods, Davey, and Janie Lee receive. However, these less developed characters never become tropes, and the narrator's fondness for them is evident. Billie provides a refreshing look at the ways faith and the church as an organization can clash. This story also celebrates experimentation with identity: Billie tries out quite a few throughout. As she finds herself, readers will be rooting for her until the very end.
VERDICT An instant classic. This is The Perks of Being a Wallflower without the angst, for a new generation. A good choice for every collection.

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