I KISSED SHARA WHEELER: A Novel
By Casey McQuiston
I Kissed Shara Wheeler is a love letter to all of us queer kids who were high schoolers in the ‘90s. Especially those of us who lived in small towns and whose social scenes revolved around Friday night football games and church on Sunday.
Shara Wheeler mysteriously disappears weeks before she is set to become her school valedictorian–seemingly without a trace. But the last night she is seen, she kisses three people: her quarterback boyfriend, her broody musician neighbor, and Chloe. All throughout high school, Chloe and Shara are archenemies competing over everything from science lab scores to winning essays. But Shara leaves a trail of pink envelopes for Chloe to find that reveals the tension she felt was maybe not what it seemed. It’s not just Chloe and Shara who rebel against their very specific identities; the jocks, the theater kids, and the mean girls all find ways to also buck the status quo. I Kissed Shara Wheeler is an unexpected mystery and love story all in one. -REBEKAH MIEL
RUN, ROSE, RUN: A Novel
By Dolly Parton and James Patterson
I was a bit skeptical when I heard that Dolly Parton was collaborating with James Patterson to write Run, Rose, Run, her first novel. But this book turned out to be delightful–just as long as you don’t go in expecting page-turning suspense and sharp plot twists.
AnnieLee Keyes runs away to Nashville to escape a mysterious past. She walks into the first dive bar she comes across and convinces the bartender to give her a spot on the stage. One song in, and it’s clear she’s going to be the next big thing in country music. But the real star of the book is Ruthanna Ryder, a retired queen of country who goes out of her way to make sure that AnnieLee isn’t taken advantage of by anyone. Throughout the story, Ruthanna speaks in Dolly-isms as she helps AnnieLee navigate the boys’ club that is country music–a reality that no one understands more than Parton herself. -REBEKAH MIEL