Joanna Gordon is anticipating her senior year in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Jo has never felt any pressure or discrimination for being gay, despite being the daughter of a popular radio evangelist. Going on crazy adventures, leading up to the grand finale road trip before college, Jo is incredibly happy tagging along with her wild friend Dana. But when her dad remarries to Three, a prissy, up-tight Southern girl who’s half his age, the unthinkable happens. Her once-accepting father is trying his best to please his new wife and create the perfect life for them. Especially if that means relocating to a conservative, praise – Jesus town where Jo must hide who she is. Jo is shocked when her father asks her to “lie low”. Go back in the closet? That’s ridiculous! Despite her disappointment in her father, Jo agrees in order to please him. Stuck in between “pure” Southern girls with minds in the gutter and extremely straight football players with a fear of homosexuality, Jo is at a crossroads. One of her first friends, Mary Carlson, is the perfect girl. Sweet, flirty, coy and kind. What happens when an unrequited love could ruin the Gordon family’s reputation?
I loved the book. It really described the feelings of having a crush on someone, straight or otherwise, and the emotion that can be embedded behind it. I didn’t like Dana however. She was intense and rude when it came to overstepping Jo’s boundaries.I saw her as extremely selfish and insecure. Many of her actions were contradictory. She would ignore Jo for weeks on end and then get mad at our main character when Jo didn’t drop everything for her. While I loved Jo, this character is a roller coaster of emotions. I was disappointed with her handling of her relationship with Mary Carlson, whether it was platonic or romantic at the time. But her actions reflected some of the things I would have done if I was in her position. I really appreciated the integration of an LGBT+ character really connected to a faith that may shame them for who they are. She continuously used her connection to her faith and the church to help her through problems, which is refreshing in today’s divide between religion and sexuality.
Joanna’s explanation of how she felt around Mary Carlson was beautiful. I could feel the butterflies in her stomach and the red-hot heat rising to her cheeks when Mary Carlson was around. It was so sweet and raw like any other crush or love.
Reviewed by Veda, Grade 11, Twin Hickory Library