Friday, January 21, 2011

The Stillburrow Crush by Linda Kage

Release Date: January 27, 2010
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Sixteen year old, Carrie Paxton, isn't the most popular girl in her small town of Stillburrow. But that's never concerned her before. Her life revolves around her writing, and she loves her job as the student editor of the school paper. But when she gets assigned to interview the football team's beloved quarterback, she takes one look into Luke Carter's blue eyes and is a goner. Suddenly, she doesn't like her lowly rank so much. Then her dreamy, popular crush surprises her when he starts to act as if he likes her in return. But there's no way Luke Carter could possibly ever like a nobody like Carrie Paxton. Is there? - Amazon.com

I expected this to be a cute little YA book that would just give me some much needed escapism.  Much to my surprise, the book gave me even more than that. It turned out to be a lot deeper than I was expecting, and I enjoyed it completely. 

Carrie is, at first, the epitome of the high school nerd girl who isn't popular.  She's the school paper photographer and shows up at the football games to take pictures.  She is so much more than that.  Kage gives such great characterization to this 16 year old girl.  She is spunky, independent, sarcastic, and smart.  I love this type of character. 

On the flip side, you expect Luke to be your typical high school jock, and for this to be the typical story of the nerd girl who worships the quarterback from afar.  I've read stories like that before and often thought it was unrealistic when the quarterback starts to return the affections of the adoring nerd girl.  Kage does something different, however.  She shows Luke's flaws, his fear of what his friends will think of him, and the peer pressure that has him making up excuses for why he's spending time with Carrie.  This is what makes the reader love him, however, as he slowly begins to crack through that peer pressure and stand for what he wants.

Kage also deals with a sub-plot on teen pregnancy and ramps up the action and stakes for Carrie as she is directly affected by the pregnancy and her family's life and harmony are threatened.  I won't say more, as I don't want to ruin it for anyone.

This book was well worth the read.  I look forward to seeing what Linda Kage will put out in future.  This one is definitely on my "keeper" pile!

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