A Golden Kite Honor Book of 2018 * A Kirkus Best Book of 2017
“A poetic love letter to the complexities of teenage identity, and the frustrations of growing up in a place where everything fits in a box—except you.”—David Arnold, New York Times bestselling author of Kids of Appetite
"Courtney Stevens firmly reasserts herself as a master storyteller of young adult fiction; crafting stories bursting with humor, heart, and the deepest sort of empathy."—Jeff Zentner, 2017 Morris Award Winner for The Serpent King
"Courtney Stevens carries us into the best kind of mess: deep friendships, small town Southern gossip, unexpected garage art, and unfolding romantic identity."—Jaye Robin Brown, author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.
But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.
Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic.
Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.
Readers will be drawn to Billie as she comes to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and friendship, in this John Hughes-esque exploration of sexual fluidity.
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Courtney “Court” Stevens grew up among rivers, cornfields, churches, and gossip in the small-town South. She is a former adjunct professor, youth minister, and Olympic torch bearer. She has a pet whale named Herman, a band saw named Rex, and several books with her name on the spine: Faking Normal, The Lies About Truth, Golden Kite Honor Book and Kirkus Best Book of the Year Dress Codes for Small Towns, and Four Three Two One. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee. You can visit her online at www.courtneycstevens.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
One of the best books about love I've read in a long time.
I’ve never wanted to deep soul cry in a way that this book made me do. It’s such a beautiful and painfully relatable story that makes my heart happy. Thank you, Courtney Stevens, for sharing this story with us all.
First I would like to thank Harper Teen for allowing me to read an ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review. The book tells the story of a group of friends living in a small town near Nashville and even though we get small parts of everyone's life we focus more on Billie, she is what has been considered a tomboy and even though she's always been familiar whit these types of stereotypes and name calling because of the way she dresses when she sees that her friends (including the guy she has a crush on) put her in the male column on an erase board she starts to really think about the people that know her best really see her. What I liked about Billie is that she always tried to be true to herself and being honest with herself even though at times it was hard and because she was very aware of what any type of sexuality ownership could do to her preacher father and the impact it would have in their small community. But also more important than that was Billie's relationship with faith and how it never waivers in the book. I liked the way sexuality was brought up in the book, how declaring if you see yourself as gay, bi, hetero or demi doesn't have to be a defining factor in your life, how you can be who ever you want to be and there's always going to be people supporting you and more importantly treating you as they have always treated you. This is such a good book and one I will gladly recommend.
I was super excited to pick DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS up. Overall, there were a lot of great things about the novel. I loved the way that Stevens explored gender and sexuality in the novel; it felt really fresh and authentic. The cast of characters in the book were also great, and Billie was a personal favorite of mine. Stevens also nails the small-town atmosphere. I did think there were parts that kind of slogged along, and I wasn't a huge fan of Stevens' writing. I'd still definitely recommend it
Wonderfully written with lovable lively characters and a strong voice. Read it!
The bottom line: I love this book. These characters are SO real. My favorite novels are ones that give me characters that, after 250 pages, I feel are old friends. This group of teens are so honestly and complexly portrayed that they could easily be walking the halls of the school where I work. This is one of the few YA books I have ever read that deals with the theme of modern organized religion in a way that feels authentic. The teen characters all belong to a church youth organization, and the main character's father is the pastor, so passages about the characters's responsibilities to the church and to God and to themselves make sense. Gender identity and gender fluidity are major themes, and these ideas are explored in a way that doesn't feel like the book is wagging its finger at the reader. The topics are presented as a manifestation of living truthfully: being who you really are, rather than worrying about others' expectations. This kind of self-awareness is exactly what teens should be encouraged to strive for. The acceptance of the peer group is an excellent model to put into kids' hands, too. This ending- well, it's just brilliant. Some will find that they don't get answers they are looking for, and that's okay. Because those answers aren't the point. The journey of self-discovery is what really matters. The realization that this group of friends is still just as close as they always were, despite the obstacles, is pretty wonderful, too.
*4.5* Have you ever read a book that's truly managed to surprise you? A book that you went into thinking okay I'll probably like this but ended up absolutely loving it - so much so in fact that you now have a new favorite character? That's how Courtney Stevens' Dress Codes for Small Towns was for me. When I first started it, I wasn't sure if I was going to love it or hate it - it was different from my usual read but there was something that drew me to it. As it turns out, the more I read and the more I got to know Billie, our brazen, hilarious, and humble protagonist, the more I loved it. Simply put, Dress Codes for Small Towns is a compete and utter gem! Billie is an amazing main character. She is fearless and strong. She is loving and loyal. She is an amazing friend and an even better partner-in-crime...basically, if Billie was a real person, I would definitely want her on my side! From the first page, I loved her tell-it-like-it-is attitude. Billie's not afraid to speak her mind, and while that does get her in a fair amount of trouble at times, it doesn't mean she's afraid to do what she think is right. At its core Dress Codes for Small Towns is about two things: friendship and finding yourself, no matter how messy and confusing the road may be. I feel like books about friendship is rarely found in YA, and honestly, I don't know why that's the case. The friendships I had in high school were incredibly important to me and monumental to who I am today, so to see a book featuring a group of best friends like the Hexagon made me happy - so incredibly happy. I loved seeing how their dynamic worked. I especially enjoyed how each member brought something important to the table - no member was the same. More importantly, how each pushed the others to be the best person they could be, even if they did so in a rash manner at times. As for finding yourself, a large portion of this book focus on Billie finding herself, especially in regards to her sexuality. I found it interesting to see Billie start the book not knowing who she actually liked - Woods, Janie Lee, or Davy. Over the course of the book, she tries out each option and soon discovers the good and bad to every possible relationship. Courtney did a fantastic job of presenting Billie's confusion over this, and I feel that anyone who's every been in Billie's shoes will be able to relate. The writing in this was also on point. I liked the way Courtney divvied up the book, including looks at the past as well as the current time. I also enjoyed how she gave Davey a POV. It added greatly to the story and also made me come to love and understand him even more than I already did. The aspect I found interesting about the writing, however, was the fact that you could only read so much at a time...I'm usually a speed reader, but this was one book I took my time with, so much so it took me nearly four days to finish it. So my advice? Take your time with this one, it's well worth it in the end. In all, Dress Codes for Small Towns is about friendship, growing up, making the right decisions along with the wrong decisions. Most importantly, it's about being yourself, no matter the constraints the people around you set. Billie McCaffrey is a kick a$$ character - an inspiration for all. You'll fall in love with her voice, her friends, and her passions... I promise you that. *Originally posted on Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf*