Title: A Little Bit Country
Author: Brian D. Kennedy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication: 31 May 2022
Oh my goodness!! This book was completely, totally adorable! Emmett Maguire wants to be country music’s biggest gay superstar, which is a bit of a reach when you’re seventeen and living in Illinois. Until that happens, he’s staying with his aunt in Jackson Hollow, Tennessee for the summer to perform at the amusement park owned by his idol, country legend Wanda Jean Stubbs.
Luke Barnes hates country music (I totally understand this). As the grandson of Verna Rose, the disgraced singer who had a famous falling out with Wanda Jean, Luke knows how much pain country music has brought his family. But his mom’s medical bills start piling up, so he takes a job at the last place he wants: a restaurant at Wanda World.
Neither of these boys are looking for romance, but sparks fly when they meet and soon they’re inseparable.
Again, this book is completely adorable, even for someone who isn’t a fan of country music. It’s mostly the racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism….really any -ism or -phobia that is super prevalent in country music. I used to listen to country music a lot, I did grow up in Texas and it was basically all I knew growing up. When I started branching out to find my own music in my teens, I turned to emo, indie, alternative bands. Country music was still something I would listen to every once and a while. Recently, I was listening to some country music on the radio on the way to work. Once at work, I texted my two best friends complaining about how horrible the songs were; it was a mix of new and old country music. The rest of the week was a similar pattern, and by the end of the week, I decided listening to country music wasn’t something I needed to do anymore.
So why did I read a book that had a focus on country music? It was the queer romance plus the fact that Wanda Stubbs was slightly based off of Dolly Parton, who is a national treasure and should be protected at all costs.
The story was the right amount of emotion and realness of the two boys lives. I was a bit nervous when I started reading it because Luke’s mom his very religious and it’s alluded that she’s not a fan of the LGBTQ+ community. I was afraid that it would turn into a gay trauma book, but it wasn’t that at all. Luke did have moments of figuring out his relationship with Emmett while keeping it a secret, but everything works out in the end. There is no parents disowning or being angry at their son, Emmett’s family is supportive and happy for him.
I was surprised by the long-lost secret about Verna and Wanda, and I feel a little oblivious that I didn’t see it coming. However, it did make the whole book that much sweeter. I’ll totally admit that I was in tears when I found out about Verna and Wanda.
Definitely, definitely recommend this book to those who like a (mostly) happy queer romance with a dash of country music thrown in!
Happy Reading Darlings!