The Queen of Kentucky has one of those fun covers that made me want to read the book as soon as I saw the cover. Ricki Jo attended a k-8 Catholic school in her small community, and as she gears up for 9th grade, she is excited about a chance to finally go to school with more kids within her community. She wants everything to be perfect and decides that in order to start it off right, she needs to be Ericka instead of Ricki Jo.
Along the way I was laughing as Ericka/Ricki Jo tried to navigate who she was and who she wanted to become, while thinking about if that's what she really wanted after all. I loved that her dad thought it was a good idea to offer that she wear his high school FFA jacket on her first day to the high school. (Somewhere I have my corduroy FFA jacket stashed away - the one that I earned by selling the most Sloppy Joe feed tickets. But that is another story...) At least her mom came to her rescue, knowing that was not necessarily the first impression she wanted to make.
Among the unknown Ricki Jo has an anchor in her best friend and neighbor. She discovers what it means to be the "new" girl and tries to decide what her priorities are. While the book mainly lets us know about Ericka's process, there are also glimpses into her friends and acquaintances. Without giving away too much, (but don't keep reading if you don't want any type of a spoiler), I thought the ending had a nice touch, not necessarily your typical girl who wants to be popular eventually abandons the popular girls because of realizations along the way. There was more of a balance, and I liked that shift.
*Debut Author Challenge 2012 - 4/12