A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy

*Spoiler free*

Thank you so much to HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for the e-ARC!

Emmett Maguire wants to be country music’s biggest gay superstar – a far reach when you’re seventeen and living in Illinois. But for now, he’s happy to do the next best thing: Stay with his aunt in Jackson Hollow, Tennessee, for the summer and perform at the amusement park owned by his idol, country legend Wanda Jean Stubbs. Luke Barnes hates country music. As the grandson of Verna Rose, the disgraced singer who had a famous falling out with Wanda Jean, Luke knows how much pain country music has brought his family. But when his mom’s medical bills start piling up, he takes a job at the last place he wants: a restaurant at Wanda World. Neither boy is looking for romance, but sparks fly when they meet – and soon they’re inseparable. Until a long-lost secret about Verna and Wanda comes to light, threatening to unravel everything.

With a cover this adorable, and about country music and queerness, of course I wanted to read it. I had also heard a whole lot of love for it online, and it sounded freaking amazing.

I really really enjoyed this book. There’s such a sweetness to it. It’s basically country music in book form.

I absolutely adored Luke and Emmett. I loved Emmett’s determination, his drive to be the biggest gay country music star, his unwillingness to back down from his dream. I loved Luke’s sweetness, and even though he’s quieter about his dreams, he still has them and he still desperately wants to chase after them. Both of the boys are very different from each other, but their relationship was so, so good. They push each other and bring out the best in each other. The want the other to be happy. And they’re freaking adorable.

Speaking of Luke and Emmett being together, another thing I loved were the conversations regarding queerness. It looks different from every person, and every person is going to have a different relationship to it. And everybody’s circumstances are different, and they’re not always happy. Despite this, this book really centers happiness, and the love that can be found with queerness. There were parts that made me cry because they were so well done, and a special kind of sweet. Just, so, so wonderful.

I also loved the relationships that weren’t romantic! I loved the friendships and the familial relationships and how they grew and blossomed. They’re complicated, but there’s also so much love there.

There were a few times that I was frustrated with the actions that Luke or Emmett took, since it seemed like every big decision followed the same formula, and it got a bit repetitive. But, that’s honestly just a personal thing and didn’t hurt my enjoyment that much!

Overall, this is such a bright, sweet, and amazing book, and I really really liked it.

A Little Bit Country comes out May 31st, 2022! You can add it on Goodreads and pre-order a copy in the meantime!

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