Review: South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf

South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf
Expected Publication: April 1, 2016
Publisher: Albert Whitman
Format: via NetGalley
Rating: 4/5

What is Kaycee willing to risk for the sake of love?
And what will she risk for acceptance?

In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes, ma’am” when the local bigots gossip at her mom’s cosmetics salon, and avoiding certain girls at all costs. Girls like Bren Dawson.

Unlike Kaycee, Bren doesn’t really conceal who she is. But as the cool, worldly new girl, nobody at school seems to give her any trouble. Maybe there’s no harm if Kaycee gets closer to her too, as long as she can keep that part of her life a secret, especially from her family and her best friend. But the more serious things get with Bren, the harder it is to hide from everyone else. Kaycee knows Sunshine has a darker side for people like her, and she’s risking everything for the chance to truly be herself.

My Thoughts
In South of Sunshine we met Kaycee who is living in small town Sunshine and who is trying to figure out life and most importantly trying to figure out who exactly she is. Kaycee has been trying to suppress her true feelings and emotions when it comes to her sexuality all until new girl Bren walks into school. When she sees Bren she knows she’s a goner and is instantly smitten with Bren and although she tries to keep her distance there comes a point when neither one can deny that there is something definitely there.

What I loved most about this book was that it wasn't just about her sexuality but also about discovering the person she wants to be. Kaycee knows that she wants more in life than just her small town; she wants to explore and make something of herself. I think in Bren, Kaycee saw that she could do things in life and be more than she ever thought she could be. Bren was that light that showed her anything was possible. But not everyone is so happy for them she does face prejudice and that makes her doubt herself and if she is really ready to be out. She doesn’t know if she is strong enough to handle everything that comes with being her true self.

This is a great read no matter if you are gay or straight it’s all about being your true self. It shows us that we are stronger than we think, and to always take pride in who we are and that if you lucky to find love no matter what that’s a beautiful thing. South of Sunshine is wonderful coming of age story one that demands to be read.


Release Day Blitz: Summerlost by Ally Condie

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A Spring 2016 Kids' Indie Next List Top 10 Pick!

Named one of Publishers Weekly’s Most Anticipated Children’s and YA Books of Spring 2016

“Condie (Matched) strikes a deep emotional chord with this coming-of-age story.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Multiple, seemingly random details, including a family of turkey vultures that now roost outside Cedar’s window, an absurd soap opera narrative of a woman buried alive, and Leo’s quest for a trip with his father, coalesce into metaphors that help Cedar make sense of her grief and the life she now has to look forward to. Thoughtful, poetic chapter endings guide readers new to psychological depth toward meaningful connections between plot events and thematic reflections.” – BCCB

“A moving tale of friendship and loss. I loved these characters—I wish we could have been friends when I was a kid.” –Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fablehaven and Five Kingdoms series

“Ally Condie’s first middle grade book might also be my favorite out of ALL her books to date. Summerlost is a story packed with nostalgia, heart, and gorgeous prose.” – The Novel Novice

“A nuanced portrait of grief deeply grounded in the middle-school mind-set.” – Booklist

“Honest, lovely, and sad.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A sweet, heartfelt story.” – School Library Journal

“Achingly good.” – Summer Laurie, Books Inc.

Letter from Ally:

Dear Readers,

I think most of us have had our hearts broken. Sometimes we can see it coming, and sometimes it comes down with the unexpected force of a sudden gale of wind or a rising of waters that we thought were still and safe. Loss is universal to human experience, but the way we each feel and recover is one of the most personal things we do.

In Summerlost, Cedar is dealing with the loss of her father and younger brother. And my intent was to show how hard their deaths are for her. But this is also a book about the healing power of friendship. Most of us have been broken-hearted; I hope that most of us have also discovered the miracle of friendships that were just what we needed. Cedar and Leo’s friendship is based on someone I met when I was twelve. Like Leo, my friend was fun and liked to enlist me in crazy adventures (although we never gave a secret guided tour of our town the way they do in Summerlost). And, like Leo, he thought I was wonderful and of worth at a time when I needed it most.

SUMMERLOST is my attempt to pay tribute both to the pain we feel and the friendships that save us. Thank you so much for supporting this book, and for your willingness to give Cedar’s story a try. I hope it makes you think of a wonderful friend of your own, whether that is someone you met in the pages of a favorite book or outside, in the world where it is often hard and beautiful to live.

Best wishes and happy reading always,
Ally Condie


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