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Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  331 ratings  ·  105 reviews
An NPR Best Book of the Year
Country Living Magazine's Front Porch Book Club Book of the Month
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

Think you know what rural America is like? Discover a plurality of perspectives in this enlightening anthology of stories that turns preconceptions on their head.

Gracie sees a chance of fitting in at her South Carolina private school,
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 13th 2020 by Candlewick Press
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charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
On my blog.

Rural Voices for me is overall a good anthology. Each story brings something new to the table and there was a great variety of them. It’s just that there were only a few stories I had strong (positive) feelings about.

The (Unhealthy) Breakfast Club / Monica Roe / 3 stars

Rep: wheelchair user character, Black character, Latina character

Like with many stories in this anthology, the opener is one that I liked, but I don’t really have much to say about it. It’s got well-rounded characte
Gary Anderson
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions about Small-Town America (Candlewick Press, 2020), editor Nora Shalaway Carpenter, author of The Edge of Anything (Running Press Teens, 2020), presents fiction, poems, comics, and personal essays about the intersectionality of rural life and other identity issues, including race, poverty, mental health, physical difference, and gender orientation. Rural Voices includes established young adult authors such as Joseph Bruchac, David Macinnis Gill, a ...more
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you Candlewick for a complimentary copy. I voluntarily reviewed this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Rural Voices
By: Nora Shalaway Carpenter, et. al.


As a person born and raised in the deep South, this collection is familiar to me. Where I live, there are rednecks, white trash, trailer trash, farm animals, backroads, poverty and places in the woods where no one goes. I understand how and why misconceptions exist about this part of the world and its people-it is like a d
Erin Cataldi
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this collection of stories about small towns, back roads, first love, show pigs, college, and teens. First off I really appreciated the diversity in this collection: Black, LatinX, LGBTQ, indigenous teens, a wheelchair user, and teens from other walks of life really helped round out this collection and help make it fresh. Second off the authors all had compelling and heartfelt stories that grab readers attention with only a handful of pages. The stories, poems, and comics take place a ...more
Kate Olson
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m a rural girl born and bred with a few very brief blips living in larger towns over the course of my 40 years ....... meaning this book was written for my heart. As with any diverse collection such as this, there will be winners and losers for every reader, but I was impressed that there was only one story I didn’t care to read in its entirety (skimmed) and despite one story that traumatized me, overall it is a super solid collection.

The back matter with paragraphs written by the authors abou
Aug 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020, lgbtqia, ya, anthology
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book.

I have mixed feelings about this book. With probably all anthologies, there will always be stories that you like and stories that you don't like. In this case, I the stories that I didn't like are actually overwhelming my thoughts right now. I have done the math though and figured out that my individual ratings would come up to 3 Stars overall.

I have to be honest, I expexted a lot of stories like the first one. K
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
I was really excited about this book- because often people living in small towns or in the country are discriminated against and looked down upon ( I can speak on that from experience), and this anthology pushes back against those stereotypes. After the 2016 presidential election, rural America was blamed for the results and quick judgments were made about them, so this enjoyable collection of short stories shows there is more diversity than people are aware of. If you are from a small town you ...more
This was a 3.5 for me, and it was way past time for a collection of 16 short stories, essays, graphic tales, and poems devoted to teens living in the rural parts of this country. That said, and considering that I did enjoy each one of these heartfelt stories, there weren't many things that surprised me about this collection. Maybe because I grew up in the country, as we always said back in the day, and never felt as though that lifestyle was somehow inferior to those who lives in the city, the s ...more
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-books
Rural, for the purpose of this book, as defined in the introduction, “refers to belonging to a community consisting of ten thousand people or fewer that is a significant driving distance from an urban area.” As someone who grew up and continues to live in Iowa, this book was intriguing to me.  Many think of my state as a “flyover state,” with nothing to offer but corn and cows.  As such, I was drawn to this read and was not disappointed or even surprised by the stories each author brought to thi ...more
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had the luxury of growing up on the border of suburban and rural. We had county fairs and time told by crop rotation and country roads that can only be driven at insanely fast speeds. But I also was only 15 minutes from a town of 40,000 and had a high school class of 1500 kids. This book is both a taste of nostalgia and incredibly important in an era where we tend to paint rural living with large monochromatic brushstrokes. The diversity of experiences in these stories helps bring to light a v ...more
Sarah Hanson
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful anthology of texts exploring the stereotypes surrounding rural communities and the vast backgrounds of individuals who call small towns, countrysides, and a variety of quiet spaces their home. As a girl who grew up in a small rural town, I find my voice heard through so many experiences shared here. Perhaps some of the most poignant collections are the poetry/prose woven throughout the book. There are strong-willed characters, overarching themes, and the need for beautiful wo ...more
K.E. Radke
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Get into the minds of people who grew up in the rural parts of America and never want to leave! Short stories about living life under a stigma and learning to stand up for everything you love about yourself.
Sofía Vakis
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I got it for christmas and it was interesting because it (as the title clearly states) challenged my assumptions about people from rural parts of the US (and also in the South). Not only this, I also learnt a lot about what living in rural places is like and I learnt not to generalize anyone. I recommend this book to people especially that think of themselves as liberal, or leftist because there is certainly work to be done in terms of instantly assuming things when you hear " ...more
“The unhealthy breakfast club." In South Carolina, Gracie lives in a trailer and hopes to fix cars like her father, but right now, she has a scholarship to a private school that’s not very close to where she lives. She and three other scholarship kids from her area like to meet in the mornings at the local McDonald’s, which has the only reliable Internet, so they can do their work. At school, Gracie feels out of place amidst all the wealthy kids, especially when someone she had considered a frie ...more
Lauren Stoolfire
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America edited by Nora Shalaway Carpenter was one of my highly anticipated books of the month. Maybe that's because I grew up in the country on a farm. You don't see a whole lot of rural settings let alone farms and the characters who live there in YA, and if you they seem to be stereotypical or misunderstood more often than not. I can probably count on one hand how m
Kelly Parker
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This collection of Small-Town America short stories hit the mark in terms of confronting many of the prejudices/expectations that are widely held about rural communities. I am guilty of many of these assumptions and was glad for the chance to have them called out.
Like almost all of the collections I’ve read, there were great stories, pretty good ones and some I found meh. What sets this book apart, though, is that all of the stories are written by different authors with unique small-town storie
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although the stories focus on rural areas, the characters in the stories have diversified backgrounds. Most of them have their fears of how others view them, but the ending usually is a good one when they stand for themselves to clarify the misperceptions against them. Besides fighting the stereotypes, they have to confront their assumptions about others and be proud of where they come from.

This book consists of short stories, poems, and even comics. I feel this book has served its purpose for t
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, librarything
What a satisfying book! This anthology has a selection of 15 short stories told in a variety of formats, including graphic novel and verse, that details the rural experience. And many are from marginalized voices.

The intro mentions that stereotyping rural people is almost an acceptable prejudice. Jokes about the backwoods are everywhere in more urban settings and even the first story (The Unhealthy Breakfast Club) takes note how people know it’s unacceptable to make racist/sexist jokes, but the
Jul 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was very good! Rural Voices had a variety of different stories, and each was way different than the last. I really enjoyed all the different types of writing from each author. I also enjoyed how there was pictures in some of the stores. I enjoyed how most of the stories had the main character, and sometimes others, growing and accepting different things about themselves. Some of the stories were a little more boring than others, but that is probably just a personal preference. This boo ...more
John Clark
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While I wish there was a story from Maine in this anthology, I have high praise for those that are included. They are varied, many are LBTGQ affirming, and at least one should spark a sense of commonality or recognition with anyone who grew up or is growing up in rural America. My favorite is Joseph Bruchac's 'Pull Up A Seat Around the Stove.' It's not only a love story about an earlier era, but a message to younger people that their parents and grandparents can be treasures of reminiscence that ...more
talia ♡
THE (UNHEALTHY) BREAKFAST CLUB - 3/5 this was one nice but not very striking. it seemed a little bit self-indulgent and like a fictional dream where the underdog stands up to their bullies who immediately cower in shame and suffer from a lack of comebacks. it almost read like a c.2013 tumblr post where "and then EVERYBODY clapped!"

THE HOLE OF DARK KILL HOLLOW - 5/5 this story knocked the wind out of me. this is EXACTLY what i wanted out of this anthology - it's like Costello wrote the short stor
Oct 31, 2020 rated it liked it
I was initially interested in this book because although I’m not a huge fan of short stories, a. I wanted to give them a chance and b. I wanted to learn a new perspective on people who live in or come from small towns.

As with all short stories, it’s rare, if not impossible to love every single story. Each author has a different writing style and voice and I personally wasn’t drawn to all of them. However, the first couple of short stories I read I thought were solid! I enjoyed the characters and
Cori // ghostlightbooks
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this copy!

Overall I really enjoyed all of these stories. There were many different genres and viewpoints and I appreciated each one of them. Throughout my reading, I took notes for each story which I've typed up below! I took the average of all the story ratings and that's how I rated overall.

The Unhealthy Breakfast Club – Monica M. Roe – 5/5 stars
- Loved the characters & concept
- Portrayed the ‘middle’ friendships we have throughout school really wel
Fernanda Granzotto
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
*Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book for review, all opinions are my own*

The (Unhealthy) Breakfast Club by Monica Roe - 4 stars

The Hole of Dark Kill Hallow by Rob Costello - 3.5 stars. I was going to DNF this story because I was not understanding, then I got the point of it and end up liking.

A Border Kid Comes of Age by David Bowles - 3 stars. I did not like the way that is was written but I really like the story.

Fish and Fences by Veeda Bybee -
Like any anthology, some pieces are stronger and more engaging than others. Those will, of course, be different for every reader.

I love the concept of this collection, but because the focus was on rural settings, even the varied stories felt repetitive after a while. The main characters talked about life in their small towns and while the circumstances were all different, the descriptions weren't as wildly different as I'd expected. In a number of cases, the story didn't feel fully fleshed out
Zoe L.
Oct 19, 2020 added it
Where has this book been all my life? Growing up in rural America, you swiftly realize people don’t quite understand just how rural (or what rural mens honestly) rural America can be. And it can be frustrating when people don’t understand or make assumptions. And this book gets it right. There are things to love when living in a rural community. And things to hate. But to me that type of living will also always be home.

I haven’t had a chance to go “home” in years. And where I grew up will always
What a strange anthology of fiction and nonfiction, of poetry and graphic novel, of memoir and place.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Little Debbies by David Macinnis Gill and The Cabin by Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson are both 5 star stories that spoke to me on personal levels.

I grew up in a town of 500 people, lived in a town with less than 50, and know rural and remote voices so well that I was surprised at how alien I found many of the stories. They tried to hard to tell me. To the point of being prea
Meredith Ann
Anthologies are often mixed bags for me so it's not surprising I felt the same way about this one. I liked the differences in storytelling mediums; it really gave the book a comfortable flow. "The (Unhealthy) Breakfast Club", "Island Rodeo Queen", and "Best in Show" were the anthology standouts and ones I'd love to see as full length YA novels. I'd recommend Rural Voices to anyone looking to read stories from a variety of voices living in an often misrepresented world, especially those with a ve ...more
Deirdre Fagan
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully diverse young adult collection in subject and genre. It is no surprise it made NPR’s Best Books of 2020. Good writing, powerful and memorable stories, and an excellent choice for a YA reader in your life. If you ever doubted the diversity present in small communities, you will no longer.
Angel Martin
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, book-tours
As someone who lives in a rural place, I was super excited to be accepted for this blog tour. I loved the idea of multiple authors coming together to battle the sometimes gross stereotypes of living in a rural area, and this book did not disappoint. I also loved that there was representation of minority groups in this book.

The authors cover every topic ranging from sexuality to fear to acceptance of whatever is bothering them. There were fifteen different authors from all over the United States
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Nora Shalaway Carpenter holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Before she wrote books, she served as associate editor of Wonderful West Virginia magazine and has been a Certified Yoga Teacher since 2012. Originally from rural West Virginia, she currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband, three young children, and one not-so-young ...more

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