A Country Girl Proves She Can Survive in Sarah Tomp’s My Best Everything

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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. 

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About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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