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South of Sunshine

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  927 ratings  ·  167 reviews
What is Kaycee willing to risk for the sake of love?
And what will she risk for acceptance?

In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes,
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2016 by Albert Whitman
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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(warnings for homophobia/suicide)

So apparently i have to scream this again but: STOP calling gay people cowards!!!!!!!! stop having them call themselves cowards!!!!!!!! stop having them call each other cowards!!!!!!! why are you doing this?????


Anyway, this was worse than everything previously read somehow. The warning signs were all there in the
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)

will I ever not be angry about this book?

How do you expect anyone to accept you if you can't accept yourself?

Galley provided by publisher.

Rep: lesbian mcs, gay side character, female bi side character

You know how, when you're watching a crap TV show, one of those ones that's horrifyingly bad - so bad you just want to cover your eyes and ears and stop watching, but it's compellingly horrifying. It's like a train wreck or a car crash, you're fixated on how
Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Albert Whitman & Company and NetGalley.)

“What I want is for Bren to press her lips against mine. To see if kissing her is different than kissing the boys I’ve been with.”

This was an okay story, but the pace was a little slow for me.

Kaycee was an okay character, and it was regretful the way she felt she had to hide who she was because the people of her town didn’t agree with people being gay.

The storyli
Dana Elmendorf
Jan 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
SOUTH OF SUNSHINE made the list! “10 Lesbian YA novels you'll totally love!" “13 YA Books Amazing Lesbian Lead Character...”
Barnes and Noble: 15 of Our Most Anticipated LGBTQ YAs of 2016

"A compelling portrait of a small-town teen learning that she doesn’t have to choose between loving her roots and loving who she really is."—Booklist

"The tumultuous coming out and secret romance with Bren will resonate with readers, as will the effects on the teen’s
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Kaycee is a high school senior living in rural Tennessee. She's also a lesbian, but so deep in the closet that she can't even say the word out loud, and she's been dating boys as a cover. Then a new girl shows up at school and Kaycee is consumed by her attraction to her.

I wasn't going to write a review of this one. For one, I'm ancient, heterosexual and male and I have no experience with either the US or this part of it in particular. To have comments on these subjects kind of goes beyond privil
Dec 02, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
Kaycee McCoy is a senior high school student in a small town in rural Tennessee. Kaycee has been kissed by a lot of boys, but it just doesn’t do anything but gross her out. She literally was happy to be dumped by her last boyfriend. Everything changes when a new girl shows up on the first day of senior year.

Bren Dawson is tall, athletic and has no problem making new friends at her new school. She hails from Boston, and has no problem being who she is, an out and proud. Bren brings up all the fee
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Pages read: 9

This is a book where the quotes can really speak for themselves. All of this happened during the first chapter, which was only 9 pages long.

I’m being dumped for Chelsea Hannigan— tiny tank top Chesty Hannigan.

Cool. Some casual girl hate, because girls with big breasts are the worst amirite? (No, MC, you are not right.)
If we’re talking, say, Becky Staggs— who has kissed every guy this side of the Mississippi—then my liplocking would be a drop in the bucket.

Here's where she levels up
*ARC / review copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, thanks again*

This book had a lot of problems; it's not important that it's diverse, that we rarely read about lesbian couples in YA... if it's bad, it's bad.
Pippa D
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lesbian-romances
Kaycee Jean McCoy is over dating boys, but knows it is the best way of hiding in plain sight in Sunshine, Tennessee. Her best friend, Van, is gay and everyone knows it, but so long as no one mentions it, everyone can pretend otherwise. Her other best friend, Sarabeth, has been happily dating one of the star footballers for the last two years. Theirs is a tight group of friends in a town where the biggest events are listed on the church calendar.

Bren Dawson, the new girl in the school, is exotic,
Jodi Meadows
If you've ever wondered where are all the coming out stories about girls -- here's a good one! ...more
Claire (Book Blog Bird)
This was quite a sweet story about a girl finally admitting to herself (and to the fellow residents of her small Tennessee town) that she is gay.

Sadly, in Sunshine, Tennessee, gay isn't an option, so Kaycee tries to fit in by having a boyfriend she detests kissing and not admitting to anyone, least of all herself, that she really likes girls. Then a new girl starts at her school and everything goes kind of right and then pretty wrong.

So I should probably start off by saying that I'm British and
Robin Reul
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Five words: This book is so freakin' good. Dana Elmendorf has completely nailed the voice of her MC Kaycee and through it transports the reader into her small town, narrow-minded world filled with intolerance and unacceptance. Rich characterization, fantastic dialogue, and a realistic slow burn romance will have readers turning the pages. It's a novel about owning who you are, and it delivers. ...more
So this was casually racist and biphobic all the while trying to get across the message that it's ok to be gay and ALSO try to shove your semi-closeted gay friend out of the closet in a dangerously conservative town that LITERALLY STILL PRACTICES SEGREGATION.

A very generous two stars. That was fucking painful.

fuck that it's one stars fuck this book
Oct 09, 2016 marked it as did-not-finish
Yeah, never mind. Rampant slut-shaming and another fashion obsessed, sassy gay man side character. And you can tell this is written by a straight woman.

Reading other reviews tells me it only gets worse, so nah, I'm out.
Sarah {Literary Meanderings}

My review of this book can be found on my YouTube channel here: South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf

The blurb mostly lies.

So there's this reality show called Southern Charm I'm grossly obsessed with. It takes place in Charleston, South Carolina. The castmembers attend garden parties and christenings and there's a lot of gossiping, but it's done subtly. "Oh, that Kathryn. She's such a little - Does anyone want cobbler?" (They became trashier in Season 2, but that's another story.)

Whereas in Sunshine, Tennessee, the name is simply ironic. After Kaycee Jean McCoy's boyfriend dumps her for the loc
Dec 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-to-review
(I received a copy from Netgalley, In exchange for an honest review.)

Actual rating - 3.5

Kaycee was an okay character. I felt quite sorry for her at times because of the way she was being treated.

The pacing in this was a tad too slow for me, so the book felt longer than what it was. It was an enjoyable read overall though.

Rajesh Bookrider
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
“I’m holding your hand, Bren. It’s not like we’re making out. Besides, cat’s out of the bag now. No sense hiding.

Kaycee Jean McCoy is main character in this book who fall in love with a beautiful cool girl Bren Dawson.
Kaycee knows she is lesbian but she denied, try to hide.
This book is all about acceptance who really you are.

I gave it ⭐⭐ stars
Because this book did keep me on to read
I abandoned 2 times because I got bored
And some character doesn't make sense what they are talking about.
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone, lgbt teens,
I received a digital ARC of this from NetGalley, which does not impact upon my review at all.

Kaycee McCoy is a closeted lesbian in a small, narrow-minded heavily religious town called Sunshine in Tennessee, USA.

Kaycee has kept up her hetero-charade since she was a young girl, but the arrival of new student Bren Dawson, a tall, athletic, and extremely gorgeous girl makes it that much harder for Kaycee to hide not only her rapidly growing feelings for Bren, but who she really is inside.
Chasia Lloyd
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Yayyyyy coming out F/F stories that deal with homophobia and tackle a little bit of racism too!

I'm not being sarcastic, this was seriously good.

Set in a small town in Tennessee, our main character Kaycee is deep in the closet. She shares disgusting kisses with boys and refuses to say the L-word in order to keep the illusion of heterosexuality. One of her best friends is gay, but they don't voice his sexuality either.

Then an outsider from Boston gets transferred to Sunshine and shakes things up,
Rahul Kanakia
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Liked this quite a bit! I thought he setting was really what sold it. Was a lush description of small town Tennessee, and I loved all the shades of queer life in the town. It was a nuanced look at where gay life is in 2015 in parts of the country. It's not exactly like it is New York, but it's also not exactly the fifties or even the eighties. It's its own thing. Anyway, I enjoyed reading about Kaycee's journey, and if you like LGBT romances I'm sure you will too.

I got an advance copy of this bo
Melissa Gorzelanczyk
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing

"A blanket and a boyfriend--or a girlfriend if that's the case--are the only two things you need on a hayride."
Suze Lavender
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Kaycee lives in Sunshine, an old-fashioned and strictly religious town. Everyone goes to the football match on Friday and to church on Sunday. Kaycee's best friend dreams of a simple life for both of them together with their future husbands who are of course also friends. Kaycee tries to find a boy she likes, but dating has proven to be disastrous so far. She has to keep this up until she can go to college, her ticket out of the town.

When Bren starts at Kaycee's high school she immediately makes
Kelley O'Brien
Dec 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, romance
Review of South of Sunshine also on my blog.


Lately, I haven’t read too much young adult. It’s a shame, and something I need to rectify, because there are, as there’s always been, some amazing literature in the genre. Dana Elmendorf’s South of Sunshine easily fits in with some of the greats.

The novel follows the daughter of a single mother, Kaycee, who struggles with her sexuality and falling in love for the first time in the small town of Sunshine, Tennessee.

There are many aspects I liked abo
Nov 09, 2015 added it
This book is going to matter, and it's going to matter a lot.

I can already see the people getting frustrated about "instalove" because it's hip and cool to dismiss a book in that way. But it's not love that hits Kaycee, it's infatuation, a crush that's bigger than she is, and the undeniable mix of hormones, fear, and "oh my god I want to kiss her."

Kaycee has been pretending to date boys to stay under the radar in her small backwater town full of gossips and anger. But when Bren and her family c
Dec 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book!

I felt the author did a really good job in creating a story with lovable characters, angst, strength, humour and a great overall story that you never want to stop reading. I thought the emotions and turmoil that the lead character Kaycee went through was very believable and I liked the way she slowly went from a frightened teen who didn't want to rock the boat to a strong lead the way person. Bren was a perfect match for Kaycee, I loved reading the interactions whic
Megan  (thebookishtwins)
I received this free from the publishers via NetGalley

DNF 25%

Kaycee Jean McCoy has lived her entire life in small - and overly conservative - town, Sunshine, Tennessee. Kaycee wanted to fit in and be accepted, which meant letting herself get kissed by boys. However, when Bren comes to town, Kaycee can't help but fall for her.

I was really looking forward to South of Sunshine, however, I found it an extremely dull read - hence the DNF.

Firstly, I felt like the characters were just cardboard cut-o
Jenefer R
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016-read

Rating: 2.5 Stars

First things first, this book didn’t grab me quickly. Things didn’t pick up until about halfway through. The build up was slow and the finish a bit too fast.

All throughout the book, the references to small town Southern mentality cliches about race and sexuality made me mad. I’m guessing that was the point so I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing per se. I’m pretty open minded and I guess I know these things happen, but still they make me angry. Kudos to any author that can make
Molli Moran
While cute at times, not a read that worked for me. A few of the characters were way too stereotypical (i.e. overly flamboyant gay boy, "slutty" bisexual girl, lesbian with a mullet), which was really disappointing. I'd like to see the author avoid that in the future, by more effort and respect, and a bit deeper insight into her queer characters. Because these characters were built around stereotypes, I couldn't resonate with them.

Kaycee's best friend, Van, is gay, and it was awesome to see he
Mar 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a story of a young girl living in a small town in America figuring out who she is. Kaycee is a young woman with a God loving mother living in a town where being gay isn't exactly something someone shouts from the rooftops.

In comes Bren, basketball star, beautiful and pretty open about her sexuality. This tips Kaycees balanced world on its axis and she finally starts to accept her not so straight self. Throw in spiteful teenagers, unhappy parents and general teenage angst and you've an i
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Born and raised in small town in Tennessee, Dana now lives in southern California with her husband, two boys and her tiny dog. When she isn't exercising, she can be found geeking out with Mother Nature. After her family’s needs are met, you can find her dreaming up contemporary YA romances with plenty of kissing. Author of SOUTH OF SUNSHINE. ...more

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