If you’ve ever lived in the rural south, this book will ring true. Not the moonshine part so much as the boredom and ridiculous rituals teens create to relieve boredom and that suspicion that you might just never get out of there.
Lulu has big plans for her future, starting with college far from her small town. When her plans fall through, she cooks up another one — literally — a summer moonshine business with the help of resident expert, Mason. He has a past and she just wants a future, but this summer could end up altering the lives of everyone involved irrevocably. I enjoyed many aspects of this book, especially the little touches that made me feel the author definitely knew or researched the business of being a country kid — everything from the river tubing to the unique small town festivals made the setting feel authentic. I also liked the use of the second person narrative. It is so rare to see that point of view done well, but this book uses it to great effect, creating suspense that will keep readers committed until the end. As much as I liked this book, I just felt something was missing. The romantic connection is never really cemented by any true sense of intimacy. Maybe that was the point, but it wasn’t what I wanted as a reader. The threat inherent in activities like moonshining, too, was less intense than I wanted. There was clear effort to make Lulu’s endeavor seem dangerous, but I just didn’t feel like she was ever truly at risk, even at at the height of the threat. Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I think my high school students will as well. I expect many of them will feel a connection with these characters as they, too are living in a small, rural town. The rituals, labels, and the varied expectations for the future are familiar and will ring true to their experiences.