Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review: Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt, and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell, by Crickett Rumley

When seventeen-year-old Jane gets kicked out of boarding school (again) and returns to her small town of Bienville, Alabama, she is certain of three things: Her grandmother will be happy to see her. She will be the subject of the town's gossip mill. And there are some people she will have to avoid. But she doesn't expect that those very things will land her smack in the middle of the Bienville's most illustrious event: the Magnolia Maid achievement pageant. (From Goodreads)

I admit that first became interested in this book after seeing the cover. It led me to expect a cute, funny read . In true Egmont fashion, the book went deeper than I expected, and didn't shy away from thought-provoking topics. 

Jane has moved back to her southern hometown after getting kicked out of boarding school, again. She's returned to a place where people are itching to know each other's business, and don't appreciate her snark. She is pretty critical of Bienville society, but it's written in a way that had me laughing. There's more to Jane than her tough exterior, though. Jane's father isn't really present in her life, and she had to watch her mother slowly die from a degenerative disease. She's worried about seeing Luke, the best friend she hasn't talked to since an interrupted kiss five years ago. 

The book also hits on the topics of change, diversity, and self-respect. This was done through the Magnolia Maid pageant. Unlike in previous years, the girls aren't chosen by the delightful Miss Upton. Instead, the group includes Jane, Brandi Lyn, and Zara, who don't fit the usual Maid mold. Brandi Lyn is working class, and Zara is the first African American to be in the pageant, and the alternate is slightly overweight with body image issues made worse by her mother (again, the lovely Miss Upton). The remaining two maids, Ashley and Mallory, are both rich, white, and less than welcoming to rest of the girls. I thought that Rumley did a good job playing the characters off of each other. Each girl had their flaws, even our sarcastic heroine. This made the story more realistic, and I was glad that Jane was confronted about her attitude. 

I would have liked some sort of resolution between Jane and her father. I'm torn about it, because I don't know if it could have been done realistically. It wasn't really necessary to the plot, and it would have seemed silly for her father to have a sudden change of heart. It just felt like a loose end that didn't really get wrapped up by the time the book drew to a close. I guess I just really wanted Jane to get a chance to share her feelings with him, and have some closure. 

I was really pleased with the way Jane was able to connect with her mother through the pageant. It added something more to the character development, and her personal growth. Egmont delivers another great debut, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Rumley does next. 

Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt, and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell
By Crickett Rumley
Published by Egmont USA
288 Pages
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Received for Review
Rating: B


~The Book Pixie said...

I'm really glad to see that you liked this because I currently have it in my review pile. Thanks for the review! :D


Tales of Whimsy said...

This sounds so cute and fun!

Andrea said...

I have this one for review too, but it's down the line. I loved the cover and the title. Glad to hear that is pretty good.

Jenny N. said...

The cover makes it seem like a cute read so good to know that there's more substance to the story.

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