At the no-Jesus Christmas parade in her small Texas town, 15-year-old Austin Gray decides she's had enough of being the butt of Dean Ottmer's jokes. Next year, if she has any say in it, she'll be the one in the velvet dress atop a parade car. Reminiscent of Catherine Gilbert Murdock's Dairy Queen, Jill S. Alexander's debut novel The Sweetheart of Prosper County, is another book with a rural setting featuring characters with a whole lot of heart.
With her new goal in mind, Austin sets out to start making marks on her checklist, and the first thing on it is acquiring an animal-- a chicken named Charles Dickens. In order to get in with the FFA (Future Farmers of America) in-crowd, she'll need to step out of her comfort zone, and in many more ways than just acquiring a feathered friend. Along the way, she discovers her similarities with her deceased father and learns to stand up to the malicious Dean Ottmer.
RIYL: Catherine Gilbert Murdock or Sara Zarr's books, and/or getting a taste of the South
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four out of five stars