Friday, December 30, 2011

Review of Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks

Cliques, Hicks, and Ugly Sticks by K.D. McCrite is the second books in the Confessions of April Grave juvenile fiction series about an eleven year old girl living in the south in 1986. (See my review for the first book here) April Grace has just gotten over the weirdest summer ever, and now she's getting ready to start middle school. But, of course, things get weird. Their snobby to-be neighbor, Isabel, gets into an accident, leaving April Grace's family and Isabel's husband to deal with her theatrics. Add a friend turned enemy, her grandma's many boyfriends, an annoying boy who has taken interest in her, and the fact that her mother is steadily becoming more and more ill but no one but April Grace seems to care... Definitely not a normal start. But April Grace deals with it all with her usual sense of humor and frankness...

I mean, how else do you deal with the trouble of cliques, hicks, and ugly sticks?

This book is perfectly imagine-able. Allow me to explain. Ever read a book, and all you "see" are the words? Either the book leaves nothing to the imagination or has too sparse details to allow the reader to picture what is going on. Well, this book doesn't have those problems. It's perfectly set in the time period but understandable enough that young readers can see April Grace's world. In fact, with the exception of a few references to items from the 1980s and absence of new items now, I wouldn't be able to place this book as taking place about thirty years ago!

The characters are all unique and as loveable as in the first book. It carries smoothly, but readers won't have trouble picking this book up without reading the first book. Isabel becomes more understandable and (is it even possible?) nicer in this book, and it was neat to see Isabel and April Grace begin to develop a friendship.

I love how this book deals in its own way with things tween girls nowadays still may have to experience. For example, as the story progresses, April Grace discovers that she will no longer be the baby of the family, and she has to struggle with mixed feelings about the baby and her parents' love for her. However, when her mother becomes very ill due to the pregnancy, April Grace really steps up to act mature and sacrifice of herself to help her mother as much as she can. Also, she has to deal with a new clique at her school lead by Lottie, who used to be her friend but seems to have changed over the summer. Things heat up when Lottie gets jealous over a boy at school liking April Grace, when all April Grace would rather do is take an ugly stick to him. April Grace's humor is still very apparent of this book, and her character carries the storyline beautifully. I believe girls middle school and even older will love and be able to relate to her.

To be honest, though, the book did seem to move slower in some parts. I still was engaged and read to the end, but it seemed like the first book wasn't as slow.

Great themes, perfect for the target age group. All in all, I rate this book four out of five stars. 

Specifics (from
~ Paperback: 288 pages
~ Publisher: Thomas Nelson (December 6, 2011)

Note: Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free e-copy of this book for reviewing purposes.



Shelley said...

Nice book review! This one really sounds like a cute story! :) I like the title!

Sierra said...

I really like April Grace's honesty. And her country ties :) I totally know what you mean. I kept going are you sure this is 1986? Sierra
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