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If God wanted April Grace to be kind to her neighbors, He should have made them nicer!
Growing up in the country is never easy, but it sure is funny—especially if you happen to have a sister obsessed with being glamorous, a grandma just discovering make-up, hippie friends who never shower, and brand new neighbors from the city who test everyone’s patience. From disastrous dye jobs to forced apologies and elderly date tagalongs, you’ll laugh ...
If God wanted April Grace to be kind to her neighbors, He should have made them nicer!
Growing up in the country is never easy, but it sure is funny—especially if you happen to have a sister obsessed with being glamorous, a grandma just discovering make-up, hippie friends who never shower, and brand new neighbors from the city who test everyone’s patience. From disastrous dye jobs to forced apologies and elderly date tagalongs, you’ll laugh ‘til you cry as you read the Confessions of April Grace!
Here are just a couple of April's thoughts: On her sister, Myra Sue: "How anyone can be that dumb and still be able to eat with a fork is beyond me." On senior citizen lovebirds: "What if they started smooching right at the table in front of God and everybody?"
In spite of all the loony characters in her life, April Grace is able to learn from her parents as they share the love of God—to even the craziest of characters!
* * *
I was sitting on our big front porch, reading a book and minding my own business, when a big black car gleaming like a new mirror pulled into the shady, narrow lane that leads to our farmhouse. I flipped my red braid over my shoulder and squinted hard. You just don't see shiny, new vehicles on Rough Creek Road, or even in Cedar Ridge—the town we live near here in Arkansas, right in the middle of the Ozarks. Folks here don't have money for fancy-schmancy automobiles, especially brand-new 1986 models, which I was sure that one was.
The minute I laid eyes on that car, something unpleasant shivered across my skin, the way the air feels before a bad storm. Worst of all, it dragged me back to a time three years ago when I was eight years old and saw something I hoped never to see again.
Here's what happened. I'd been invited to spend the weekend with Crystal Tomlinson, a new girl at school who'd moved to Arkansas from someplace up North. We became friends right off.
Her family lived in a brand-new, huge house with a swimming pool and a maid, and I had never seen such a thing in my life.
One weekend, a bunch of Crystal's relatives had come to visit, but they were all adults, and she didn't have anyone to play with. That Friday night, while the grown-ups gathered downstairs, Crystal and I sat in her pink-and-white bedroom, playing with about two dozen My Little Ponies. I was thinking I'd dream of multicolored plastic horses for three weeks when suddenly, Crystal grabbed my hand and tugged me to my feet.
"Let's get something to eat!" she hollered. Crystal was a bit chubby around the edges, so getting something to eat right then wasn't totally unexpected. In fact, we'd had supper in the kitchen with the maid only an hour or so earlier. But this was an adventure, so I merrily went along with her.
We ran down the back stairs to the kitchen, where we ate tuna sandwiches and potato chips and slugged down Pepsi-Cola until we belched like truck drivers.
"Now let's get some cake," Crystal squealed. I followed her into the dining room, where many people sat at a long table full of flowers and candles. They didn't see us as we went to the sideboard that held two kinds of cake.
While Crystal cut us big hunks of each cake, I looked at the adults. That was the first time I'd seen a table like that. It was covered with a bright white tablecloth, a bunch of sparkly goblets, and a zillion pieces of silverware next to each plate. And I had never in my life seen people all dressed up that way just to sit around and eat supper. The men wore dark suits, and the women's big hair was all stiff and poofy. Their jewelry glittered in the light from a big chandelier.
At our house, we wash our hands and comb our hair before we sit down to eat. If our clothes are dirty, we put on clean ones, but that's it. No high heels or ties or dangly earrings.
Everyone was laughing at something Crystal's dad had said, when her mother piped up in a nasally kind of voice.
"I'm not sure how much longer I can take living here," she said. "You cannot believe these people. They think Fifth Avenue is nothing more than a candy bar. And the last time any of them went to the theater, it was to the Grand Movie House in Cedar Ridge. They've no idea what real theater is...."
About that time, she spied Crystal and me. "Oh, here's one of them now. Come here, little redhead. Tell us your name," she said.
Everyone stared at me, and I felt like I didn't have my clothes on, but I said, "April Grace Reilly."
She looked at the others, and all of them laughed.
"Isn't that name too much?" Crystal's mom laughed. "April Grace. And the way she says it, as if she's proud."
They laughed some more.
"Come here, dear," she said. "These people want to meet an actual little hillbilly."
I approached the table slowly, not liking the way those folks smiled.
"Say something," said a woman on the other side of the table. She had a long face with deep grooves running down both sides of her mouth.
I looked at her, then at Crystal's mother. Then I looked at Crystal, who shrugged.
"Say something, April Grace," Crystal said.
"I don't know what to say," I said.
"How about a poem?" asked a man near the end of the table. He pronounced it "pome." The man had a narrow, pointy head. In a voice that sounded like it came from his sinuses first, and which I suppose he thought sounded clever, he said, "Can you-all recite a poem?"
"Yes, sir," I said.
Every last one of them snickered.
"Go ahead," said the pointy-headed man.
I figured if I said the poem without a single mistake and without talking too fast, they'd quit looking at me that way. I cleared my throat and stood straight and tall, the way Miss Carmichael had taught us.
"I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree," I began.
I was the only one in third grade who'd been able to remember that entire poem by Joyce Kilmer. I recited the whole thing right to the end, but the people at that table were all laughing their socks off.
"What's so funny?" I asked. "I did it right."
"It's the way you talk, April Grace," Crystal whispered right in my ear.
"See?" said Crystal's mother to her relatives. "That twang is just too much!"
She clapped her hands together, and I saw her long, red fingernails and a bunch of rings on her thin, white fingers.
"I actually overheard a woman the other day say she 'lived a right far piece from the Walmarts.' Oh, and that's another thing here. Life seems to revolve around trips to Walmart. Or church."
The pointy-headed man leaned away from the table and eyeballed my feet. "She's wearing shoes!" he said. "Her family must be rich."
Well, that got a big, fat laugh.
A youngish woman across the table had a long face and a long, pointy head. She must have been the daughter of the other two. "Which one of your cousins will you marry when grow up?" she asked.
"Angela!" gasped Crystal's mother. "Shame on you." But I noticed she laughed as hard as anyone else.
"I don't have any cousins," I told her.
But that only made everyone laugh even harder.
"What's so funny about that?" I asked.
"One thing more, Daisy Mae," said the pointy-headed man, smirking as he said the name. "Is your house a single- or a double-wide?"
They all hooted like that was the funniest joke of the night. I didn't live in a trailer, but why would it matter if I did? I couldn't understand why they laughed and said all those dumb things, but something inside me got tight and burned like fire.
"What's so funny?" I demanded, but no one told me.
I looked at Crystal. She was grinning like a big goof. She probably didn't understand it any more than I did, but all of a sudden I couldn't stand the sight of her, or that big house, or those fancy, sniggering people.
"I want to go home," I said. Then I marched into the kitchen through a pair of swinging doors, found the telephone, and called for my daddy to come get me. I never went to Crystal's house again. A year or so later, her folks moved out of the Ozarks and back to whatever city up North they'd come from. Good riddance, I'd say.
So now, anytime I see some slick car or uppity, dressed-up people, my hackles rise in defense.
It was too bad about Crystal, because I had liked her well enough. In fact, maybe we still would have been friends. Maybe not. Sad thing is, my new best friend, Melissa, had gone away to summer camp at the end of our fifth grade year, and I didn't have a blessed thing to do that summer. As it turned out, though, things happened that made the summer of 1986 the most memorable time of my whole entire life. And it all started with that gleaming black car pulling up in front of my house.
* * *
On that warm July day, while I watched from the porch, that car just sat there, paused in our driveway. I could see two people inside talking to each other. They looked toward the house for a bit; then the car sort of oozed up the driveway and stopped near the porch.
Daisy, our big white dog who is older than dirt, slept in her favorite sunny patch by the porch steps. She woke up and looked up long enough to take note of the visitors. Then she thumped her tail once or twice, yawned, and lowered her head to her paws.
"Some watchdog you are," I told her.
I was wearing a baggy, raggedy pair of red terry cloth shorts and a yellow T-shirt with the arms cut out because I'd got into poison ivy chasing Grandma's spoiled white cat, Queenie, who is not supposed to get out of the house but does anyway. Just because of her, I'd spent the better part of that week begging God not to let me itch completely to death.
Mama and Daddy had gone over to Ava in Douglas County to pick up a part at the tractor place because in all of Zachary County, that particular part was not to be found. Although my grandmother lives just across the hayfield from us, my sister and I were home alone right then.
The blond-haired, pink-faced man in the car blasted his horn. It was as loud as a freight train and startled me so bad I jumped. Daisy lumbered up and woofed once.
The man motioned for me to come to his car door, but I didn't do it for three good reasons. Number one: he might've been an ax murderer for all I knew. Though from the looks of that spiffy car and the diamond ring winking in the sunlight on his pinky finger as he beckoned me, he looked more like a banker than a crook. Number two: my poison ivy itched worse every time I moved. Number three: I was pretty put out that he just sat in our driveway and honked for me to come running like he was King of the World. Plus, Daddy and Mama have talked to me and my sister about being careful around strangers.
I looked at the scrawny boy in the seat beside him. Boy, that kid was some kind of ugly with a mug that was all ghostly white cheekbones and forehead. His black eyebrows dipped down toward a long, pointy nose. He wore his short, dark hair all slicked back so his face was just hanging there, and you just had to stare at it, kinda like a bad wreck on the highway.
The way that pair glared at each other, you could see they were both madder than a two-edged sword.
They began to argue, but I couldn't make out the words. Finally the man's window slid down, smooth as you please.
"You! Girlie! Is that creature vicious?"
I glanced around, expecting to see Grandma's cat, who has been known to bite the hand that feeds her, or anyone else's hand for that matter. Then I saw him eyeball Daisy, who had plopped back down in the sun and was lying there like melted ice cream. I laughed out loud. That dog would rather lick you than sic you, and that tight-faced man was the only person in the world who ever thought good ole Daisy might be vicious.
"No, sir, she ain't mean," I said when I finally quit laughing fit to be tied.
The man turned to the boy and said something. This time, with the car window down, that boy's answer came out loud and clear.
That's when I realized the homely kid was actually the most unpleasantest-looking woman I've ever seen in all my life, and that's putting it nicely. And let me tell you, she had a voice shrill enough to crack the Arctic ice cap.
"I am not getting out of this car, Ian! That child is covered with sores, and there's no telling what rural diseases she has."
Well, she didn't need to make it sound like I had the cooties. We Reillys take a bath every single night before bed. My sister, Myra Sue, who is fourteen years old and is in love with herself, bathes about five times a day even though she's too lazy to do a blessed thing to get herself dirty.
"I got poison ivy," I hollered at the woman, who continued to gawk at me as if I were something disgusting. "It's not catchy, like the measles or head lice."
There was just the tiniest silence, as if they were both surprised I could speak. After a moment, the man gave me a big plastic smile that stretched his lips halfway to both ears. He obviously didn't wear dentures because they would've popped out from all the grinning.
"Well, then," he said heartily, "can you tell us if this is Rough—"
"What's the matter with you, Ian?" screeched the woman. "She's a child. She doesn't know anything!"
Ian jerked his head around to look at her, and I got a real good view of his bald spot turning a peculiar shade of purple.
"Isabel! Be quiet! You haven't shut your yapping mouth since we left San Francisco."
Well, I hate to say it, but watching this business was almost better than reading. I put my book down so I could pay attention. What were those people, anyway? Crazy?
The woman shrieked as if she had been goosed.
"Don't you tell me what to do, Ian St. James," she said. "This whole move is your idiotic idea. I was perfectly content at home, in the middle of civilization!"
His next words came out like little soldiers in a row, all stiff and even.
"Kindly remember that our home is gone."
"And it's all your fault!" she screamed.
The little soldiers continued to march forth. "I told you that someday I wanted to get back to our roots," he said.
"Roots? Back to our roots? We were both born in Marin County. California, Ian. California!"
"But my grandfather came from West Memphis."
She looked so mad I thought her eyeballs would pop right out. She leaned into him.
"Have you ever looked at a map?" she asked. "West Memphis is at least two hundred miles from this odious place. We don't have hillbilly roots!"
They glared at each other for a spell and cussed each other out pretty good, then she slung herself back against the car seat, crossing her arms.
By then it seemed evident they weren't ax murderers or dangerous in any way except maybe to each other, but all that screeching and cursing made me itch and gave me a headache. I'd had an earful more than I could stomach. I got up and went into the house, letting the screen door bang shut behind me. Then I latched it, just for good measure and for safety's sake.
The car horn blasted again, three times.
In the living room, Myra Sue lounged on the sofa with a pile of clean, unfolded towels all around her, as if she thought she were a princess and the laundry were velvet cushions. With her mouth hanging half-open, she had her eyes glued to the TV, watching Days of Our Lives. She didn't have anything better to do, I guess, because her two best friends, Jessica and Jennifer Cleland, were spending the summer with their grandparents in Hawaii.
I settled carefully into the soft, old rocking chair Grandma uses whenever she comes to visit, which, if you are interested, is every single day.
"Is someone outside?" Myra Sue asked, coming up for air during a commercial. My sister has wavy blond hair and bright blue eyes and thinks she is so all-fired gorgeous that it's like her feet are glued to the floor in front of the mirror. I bet she'd stare at herself 'til the Second Coming if Mama would let her. I even caught her kissing her reflection one time, and she like to pulled me bald-headed when I couldn't stop laughing.
"You could say that," I muttered.
Outside, Daisy gave another low, lazy woof. Someone squealed. A car door slammed loud enough to wake the dead in Cedar Ridge Cemetery eight miles away.
Myra Sue gave me her usual dirty look.
"Did you lock the screen?" she asked. "We don't want a lunatic or a salesman in the house."
With one foot, I set Grandma's chair to rocking and ignored her. I opened my book and plunged myself back into the world of Oliver Twist, which I like way, way better than that series about junior high cheerleaders all the other girls my age love so much.
"Hey in there! Girlie!" The man's voice came from outside, somewhere in the region of the porch steps.
Myra Sue didn't move, and neither did I.
"He's hollering at you," she said. That girl is so lazy she wouldn't move if the towels caught fire.
Excerpted from In Front of God and Everybody by K.D. McCRITE Copyright © 2011 by Kathaleen McCrite. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted March 8, 2012
Look im only 10 and this is one of the best books ever writen. I think everyone should read this book it will make you wet your pants laughing
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 2, 2012
My friend recomended this book to me and i fell in love with it!!! In school, I would start reading it and someone was telling me that we were on our way to spanish class, but I didn't even hear them! I was too busy living in the world of April Grace. This is such a well written book and I love it!!!!!!
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Posted July 3, 2012
Posted March 28, 2012
This is an amazing book!!
New neighbors come and in this case it means trouble. Watch out for grandmas new "boyfriend" anyway the neighbors are always yelling.
This is a VERYappropriate book for kids but has maybe confusing parts for young children so i would recommand eight and up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Amazing book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Posted September 4, 2013
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Posted February 9, 2014
This was the best bok ever and I can totally connect to how she is feeling becaue my grandma might marry a man that I don't like amd I have one sister that can tend to get on my nerves!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 14, 2013
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Posted July 3, 2013
The best mid-grade novel since Nancy Drew and Pippy Longstocking! April Grace is awesome! I recommend this to any kid, any age. JeanieLWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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Posted February 26, 2013
I really enjoyed the first book as a teen. I really enjoyed how she felt about the whole thing. I dont know if i should read the second one before i read the third one or just read the thrid.(:Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 26, 2011
I started reading Confessions of April Grace around two in the afternoon and finished around eleven o'clock that night! I literally couldn't put it down, even though eleven is way past my bedtime! :)
I was wrapped in the book from the very first page. April Grace is a sassy little thing who is proud to be a "hick" from the Ozarks and lets her snotty new neighbors know it (on more than one occasion). She adores her parents, idolizes her grandmother, and dislikes her older sister Myra Sue (as every eleven-year-old girl does at some point!). Her parents go out of their way to be kind to their neighbors who have been forced to move from their opulent lifestyle in California out to the backwoods. Needless to say, they are NOT happy about it and have no problems telling everyone within earshot that how ignorant the people are and how better off they had been in California. I wanted to slap the couple on more the one occasion! :)
But throughout the book, April's mother and father, by being kind, are teaching her an amazing life lesson: treat others with kindness, regardless of how they treat you. And let's be honest, how many of us really do that? Someone makes us angry and we simply lash out, which makes them lash out, and nothing ever gets solved.
McCrite creates characters you love and hate, and yet by the end of the book, she had given you insight into their behavior such that you find yourself feeling sorry for the ones you hated and becoming angry with the characters you loved. I found myself laughing (quietly, mind you, since the hubby was asleep) and then crying by the end. McCrite's use of Bible verses and Christian values as a teaching tool is such a breath of fresh air! And the lessons don't just happen for April Grace, they happen to everyone in the book, the reader included.
I am looking forward to reading the next installment of the April Grace series! Hats off to KD MCCrite for this amazingly charming novel!
Posted June 24, 2011
"In Front of God and Everybody: Confessions of April Grace" is a fun story about 11 year old April Grace. The book is geared toward girls in their early teens. It is a quick read and entertaining for adults as well. April must deal with snooty new neighbors who make fun of her accent, her sister who thinks she rules the universe, and her grandma who is trying to impress a new man. April narrates most of the story with her funny but thoughtful insights. Some of it seems forced but still funny to young girls.
April's parents work to teach a lesson in humility and grace by continuing to show love to the snooty neighbors while April spends most of her time saying what everyone else is thinking but is too scared to say. Some of the funny situations include April coming to terms with her grandma kissing her boyfriend and wearing makeup. April must also figure out if the new boyfriend is who he says he is even though no one else picks up on his mysterious attitude.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted June 14, 2011
In Front of God and Everybody is a book about a country girl and her interesting summer. When some strange and rude city folk have to stay at April Grace's house with her and her family, and grandma gets a no-good boyfriend, April Grace is at her wits end with them and her wanna-be older sister.
The book was not what I had expected, but not in a bad way. It was a funny read, and I enjoyed it. The characters were amusing. I thought the book got better as it went along. Personally, I wouldn't recommend the book to anyone under the age of ten because of some of the dialogue, and as realistic as strife can be in families, I'm not a huge fan of reading it. Overall, it was a cute and pretty good book.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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Posted June 12, 2011
What a totally delightful book! This is the story of 11 year old April Grace who lives with her parents and older sister on a farm in the Ozarks.
Grace has new neighbors from California whom she is suspicious of. Not to mention her grandmother's new beau! So Grace plays detective in this hilarious and entertaining book.
April learns a lot about life in her experiences... from watching what she says to doing unto others... the grandmother is a someone you would love to know!
On the flip side, the Reilly family is supposedly religious but there was very little of their spiritual lives mentioned. Also stereotyping wasn't addressed in a positive way. I want my daughter to read Christian fiction but this left me disappointed.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.