Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Small Town Pride

Rate this book
From acclaimed author Phil Stamper (The Gravity of Us and As Far as You'll Take Me) comes a poignant coming-of-age, contemporary middle grade debut novel about finding your place, using your voice, and the true meaning of pride. Perfect for fans of Rick by Alex Gino and The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy.

Jake is just starting to enjoy life as his school's first openly gay kid. While his family and friends are accepting and supportive, the same can't be said about everyone in their small town of Barton Springs, Ohio.

When Jake's dad hangs a comically large pride flag in their front yard in an overblown show of love, the mayor begins to receive complaints. A few people are even concerned the flag will lead to something truly outlandish: a pride parade.

Except Jake doesn't think that's a ridiculous idea. Why can't they hold a pride festival in Barton Springs? The problem is, Jake knows he'll have to get approval from the town council, and the mayor won't be on his side. And as Jake and his friends try to find a way to bring Pride to Barton Springs, it seems suspicious that the mayor's son, Brett, suddenly wants to spend time with Jake.

But someone that cute couldn't possibly be in league with his mayoral mother, could he?

272 pages, Hardcover

First published May 31, 2022

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Phil Stamper

11 books1,576 followers
Phil Stamper grew up in a rural village near Dayton, Ohio. While it could be seen as a boring lifestyle to some, he kept himself entertained by playing the piano and writing stories that stretched his imagination. He has a B.A. in Music from the University of Dayton and an M.A. in Publishing with Creative Writing from Kingston University.

When he first left his home state, he landed in Washington, DC with no job prospects, $800 in graduation money, and the promise of a walk-in closet to live in. Not long after—and he’s not totally sure how—he was jumping headfirst into a career in non-profit PR and sleeping in a real bed. He loved writing for a living, even if he was writing press releases and news stories... and hundreds of emails to annoyed journalists. But after a while, the dry writing started to get to him, so he thought he’d finally work on that book he always wanted to write.

Years later, Phil is now the bestselling author of The Gravity of Us, As Far As You’ll Take Me, and other queer books for kids and teens. He works in author development for a major book publisher in New York City, where he lives with his husband and their dog. Golden Boys, the first book in his upcoming young adult rom-com duology, comes out in February 2022. Small Town Pride, his debut middle grade novel, publishes in Summer 2022.


Note: I no longer accept friend requests due to Amazon blocking reviews from Goodreads friends. It's not personal! Please connect with me on Twitter/IG/Tiktok at @stampepk. Thank you!

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
549 (40%)
4 stars
567 (42%)
3 stars
190 (14%)
2 stars
23 (1%)
1 star
15 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 352 reviews
Profile Image for Snjez.
735 reviews383 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
June 2, 2022
dnf @ 20%

This has nothing to do with the story. From what I've listened to so far, it seems lovely and meaningful, Jake is sweet and I really like his dad.

I'm giving up for now because I can't listen to the audiobook anymore. Jake is supposed to be 13 years old, I think, and the narrator definitely doesn't sound like a teenager.

But that wasn't my main problem. My main problem were the voices the narrator gave other characters, especially Jake's friend Jenna and Brett. Jenna sounds like a screeching parrot and also seems very annoying. Not sure if she's meant to be or it's just the narrator's interpretation of her character. And Brett sounds like a grown-up chain-smoker.

It took me 3 days to listen to 1 hour of the audiobook, and at this point the voices are making it impossible for me to concentrate on the story any longer.
Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
470 reviews276 followers
June 1, 2022
Look at the cover! Sweet, cute, and vivid at the same time. Just like Phil Stamper’s first middle-grade story. Small Town Pride is filled with so much queer love!

I’m incredibly happy that there are more and more queer stories for middle-grade kids. Because in the age of 10-14, so many things change. School, your body, being aware of your sexuality, and maybe even falling in love for the first time. And Small Town Pride just shows us all the feelings you can have as a thirteen-year-old queer teen.

This story is like a warm blanket wrapping itself around you to make you feel safe and loved. Phil Stamper pulled me into the story, and I couldn’t hold back, and without being aware of it, I had already read a quarter of the story. The writing is effortlessly flowing, and the characters are incredibly lovable. I sympathized so much with Jake, and Jenna and Brett are fantastic side characters.

This is a story to cherish if you’re a queer kid, a parent of a (queer) kid, or a queer adult, even if you usually don’t read MG stories. I loved your young adult stories Phil, especially Golden Boys, but this story has a special place in my heart!

I received an ARC from HarperCollins and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Follow me on Instagram
Profile Image for Tina Loves To Read.
2,460 reviews1 follower
November 17, 2022
This is a Middle Grade book with a Wonderful message. I really enjoyed it and loved this book so much. I love the characters in this book. I loved the parents of the main character in this book, and I loved how much they support him. Great Read with more than one message hidden inside. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (HarperCollins) or author (Phil Stamper) via NetGalley, so I can give an honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that.
Profile Image for Fer Bañuelos ✨.
725 reviews3,281 followers
May 31, 2022

Gracias Netgalley por darme una copia avanzada de este libro!:

QUE HERMOSO LIBRO. Una manera excelente de empezar un mes de lecturas de puro libro con representación.

En su núcleo, Small Town Pride es una historia sobre mostrar tus colores verdaderos, de tener una oportunidad de ser quien quieres ser y quien eres sin miedo alguno. Con protagonistas como Jake, Jenna y Brett, es una imagen preciosa de lo que bello que es recibir el apoyo cuando uno sale del closet.

Esta es una historia sobre la resiliencia, de hacer lo que sea necesario para superar la adversidad, y salir de ella lleno de orgullo. Es un abrazo para todxs lxs niñxs queer, y les hace saber que no estan solos, que son dignos de amor y de cariño. Es una historia demasiado hermosa, con un corazón enorme. Me encantó cada página que leí.

Me gustaría creer que esto podría pasar, que el mundo no es un lugar tan jodido como para privar que niños puedan vivir su verdad y ser felices mientras lo hacen. Espero que, algún día, si hay algún niñx de 13 años que quiera realizar un festival del orgullo lo pueda hacer. Las cosas han ido cambiando para bien por los pasados años, pero aún así hay mucho cambio que hacer. Y, libros como estos, me hacen creer que ese futuro es posible.

No esperaba que Small Town Pride me calentara el corazón como lo hizo, pero estoy feliz de que haya sucedido. Automáticamente se convirtió en uno de mis libros con rep lgbt+ favoritos de la vida. Ya quiero que todo el mundo lo lea.


Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book!:

What a gorgeous, little book. Great way to start a month long marathon of lgbtq+ stories

Small Town Pride is a middle grade story about 13 year old Jake, who decides that he wants to throw his small town's first pride parade after his father, to show his support after his coming out, hangs a flag in front of his house, making a few people of the town angry. In it's core, Small Town Pride is a story about showing your true colors, and how everyone deserves a shot in being their themselves unapologetically.

This is a story about resilience, about doing what it takes to overcome adversity in the most prideful way. It is also a love letter to every queer kid, and it lets them know that they are not alone, that they are worthy. It's such a beautiful story, with so much heart. I loved every single page of it.

I want to believe that this could happen, that the world isn't such a dark and bad place that it would prefer to deny happiness to its younger ones instead of giving them a chance. I hope someday we can get to a place were, if a 13-year-old child wants to throw their own pride parade, they can. Things have been getting better recently, but there's still a long way ahead. And, books like this, make that future posible.

I didn't expect Small Town Pride to tender my heart the way it did, but I'm so happy it happened. This is one of my new all time favorite lgbtq+ books. I can't wait for everyone to read it.
Profile Image for booksandzoe.
266 reviews1,693 followers
March 29, 2022
Phil Stamper has become an auto-read author for me as all 3 of his previously published YA novels have been 4 stars and above for me. I was curious to see how his debut Middle Grade novel would stack up against his previous novels, and I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth the transition from YA to MG suited him!

Small Town Pride is about a middle schooler who comes out as gay, then quickly becomes a more public topic of conversation when his dad hangs up a huge pride flag right outside his house. Living in a town so small its legally considered a village, the main character decides to seize this opportunity to become more politically active by standing up for the queer community against the Mayor and other small-minded citizens and founding the first pride parade in his village.

I thought the voice for Middle Grade was very flawless; it wasn't condescending as some authors can sometimes lean into, and fit the audience perfectly. I loved the characters in this book, loved the plot, how the development was handled, and I will be giving this to my younger sister to read.
Profile Image for ☆ Todd.
1,350 reviews1,483 followers
Shelved as 'maybe'
December 1, 2021

Now available for ARC request on NetGalley:


Blurb (since it isn't up on GR yet):
We will do it. We’re going to throw Barton Springs’s first Pride.

Jake just starting to enjoy life as his school's first openly gay kid. While his family and friends are accepting and supportive, the same can’t be said about everyone in their small town of Barton Springs, Ohio. When Jake’s dad hangs a comically large pride flag in their front yard in an overblown show of love, the mayor begins to receive complaints. A few people are even concerned the flag will lead to something truly outlandish: a pride parade.

Except Jake doesn’t think that’s a ridiculous idea. Why can’t they hold a pride festival in Barton Springs? The problem is, Jake knows he’ll have to get approval from the town council, and the mayor won’t be on his side. And as Jake and his friends try to find a way to bring pride to Barton Springs, it seems suspicious that the mayor’s son, Brett, suddenly wants to spend time with Jake. But someone that cute couldn’t possibly be in league with his mayoral mother, could he?
Profile Image for atlas ♡.
121 reviews117 followers
June 6, 2022
i don't read a lot of middle grade but i saw this on Netgalley and had to request at least! this was a lot more emotional then i expected but still made for a sweet read.

small town pride is full of queer joy and i absolutely love it! i loved the main character and following his journey. the side characters were also well done do fun to read about. i liked how the overly supportive parents weren't seen as a bad thing but that Jake was able to communicate to them properly. i love this book's hopeful tone and beautiful message.

overall this is a well done middle grade book i'd reccomend to all ages!
Profile Image for Carlos Vega.
164 reviews19 followers
May 6, 2022
Thank you so much to NetGalley for providing me this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

"Hateful people are everywhere, I know that. But couldn't they just shut up for a minute? Why do they always have to have the last say when it comes to celebrating people who are different than them?"

English: Small Town Pride is an excellent story for lgbtq+ children, because the main character is in the struggle to make his small town a more inclusive place for the community, this book deals with issues such as acceptance and the importance of a safe space, that is why I firmly believe that it is a very good book for children.

However in my case I did not like it too much, and all the weight of this is carried by the protagonist, Jake, for me he was just an annoying kid who wanted his life to be perfect, even when you know that this can never always be so, besides he was quite ungrateful to his parents and his friend, it was really too annoying and childish for my taste and it hurt the story.

Also the way the events were handled throughout the book did not end up convincing me, but I must admit that the ending was nice.

Final Rating: 2.5 stars

Español: Small Town Pride es una historia excelente para niños lgbtq+, pues el protagonista se encuentra en la lucha para hacer de su pequeño pueblo un lugar más inclusivo para la comunidad, en este libro se trata temas como la aceptación y la importancia de un espacio seguro, es de ese modo que creo firmemente que para niños es un libro muy bueno.

Sin embargo en mi caso no llego a gustarme demasiado, y todo el peso de esto se lo lleva el protagonista, Jake, para mi el simplemente era un niño molestoso que quería que su vida fuera perfecta, aún cuando se sabe que esta nunca puede ser así siempre, aparte se me hizo bastante mal agradecido con sus padres y con su amiga, de verdad que fue demasiado fastidioso e infantil para mi gusto y me daño la historia.

También el como se manejaron los hechos a lo largo del libro no terminó de convencerme, pero si debo admitir que el final fue bonito.

Calificación Final: 2.5 estrellas
Profile Image for Nev.
1,059 reviews139 followers
April 8, 2022
This was such a lovely queer Middle Grade book! The story follows thirteen year old Jake after he comes out to his parents and his dad flies a huge pride flag outside their home. Some people in their small town are super accepting and happy to see the flag, but not everyone. Whether it’s comments like “there are no people like that here” or being concerned that it will lead to a pride parade being held in their town. So Jake decides they should try to hold a pride festival so he can show that Barton Springs can be a welcoming place for everyone.

I really enjoyed the message in this book about how people shouldn’t have to move away to a big city in order to find a queer community. How everyone should be able to feel accepted and welcome in their small towns. It was really rewarding watching Jake and his friends stand up for what they believed in and work to change the minds of adults so they can hold their pride festival. But I also appreciated how the author showed that sometimes people can’t be public about their sexuality because it wouldn’t be safe for them. But I did think that at times Jake and his friends didn’t quite feel like thirteen year olds.

The tone of the book is mostly hopeful. While there are some people who oppose Jake and him wanting to hold a pride festival in town, the story never gets overwhelmed with hate or anger. Definitely check this one out if it sounds interesting to you!

Thank you to the publisher for providing an advance copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for DP Clarence.
98 reviews19 followers
June 7, 2022
I would have loved this book if I was a middle schooler (the target age group). It feels important and empowering. The writing felt repetitive though (“with a laugh”, “I shrug”, etc, appear A LOT. But I think this is great. I just didn’t love it. I’ve graded it for the genre and audience though, rather than how much I like it or not.
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,767 reviews651 followers
May 2, 2022
This is a great middlegrade in a lot of ways, with a very lovable main character. I also especially adored Brett, who I want to protect with my life. For a book about pride, though, I would have liked to see more queer characters beyond one gay middleschooler and one bi one. Both because this book doesn't quite show how broad the LGBTQ+ community is, and because I would have liked to see more of a queer support system around these kids. I did however think this was an empowering story when it comes to finding the courage and strength to be out.
Profile Image for Christina.
283 reviews6 followers
April 1, 2023
This book made me cry at least twice. Even talking about it makes me cry. Homophobes suck and we should be protecting kids, not making them feel unsafe. I loved this book.
Profile Image for Louis Muñoz.
144 reviews55 followers
August 22, 2022
I'm rating this book as four stars, although it's really a 3-star book for me. Why? Because even though the book didn't really set off any fireworks for me, I think it's a fairly well-written book, it's great to see an awesome writer like Phil Stamper break into the middle-school field, and most of all, because I think this will be, this IS, a very important book for many kids, parents, teachers, and communities (especially smaller and/or more rural ones). I wish this kind of book had been around for me and other LGBTQ and/or questioning preteens and teens and not just for me, but also for potential and actual allies, younger and older. Thanks, Phil Stamper!

For myself, because all the characters read as "white," I feel that an important opportunity for even more inclusion and diversity was missed. Some of you will say, "But it's a small, rural town in Ohio, what do you expect?" Um, hello, there ARE people of color in small, rural towns. On another note, I read a fair amount of YA these days, but middle school books not so much, so admittedly, I'm not the best judge or audience. So, again, not a great read for me, but I would want to see this book in a lot of libraries, bookstores, and especially, in a lot of people's hands!

P.S. Note to publishers: Why do you let so many typos get by? For example, p. 195; p. 198; and p. 218, among others.
Profile Image for Shannon.
2,330 reviews166 followers
May 30, 2022
Small Town Pride is a darling of a book!

It's such a sweetly positive story. It's a story about acceptance and finding your place in the world, even if it's just your small town.
Jake is such an endearing character, you can't help but want all the good things in life for him. I loved that he didn't want to escape his town, he wanted to be accepted there and make it more welcoming for all.

I hope Small Town Pride finds it way into the hands of all the readers who need it-which, honestly, could be anyone, of any age, really. It's a feel good read, but definitely makes you think.
Profile Image for lyraand.
215 reviews36 followers
Want to read
February 11, 2021
"13-year-old Jake loves his rural town, but doesn't always feel supported by the people there, so he fades into the background. That is, until he comes out and his overly supportive dad puts a comically huge pride flag in their yard, suddenly turning all eyes on him."
Profile Image for Shannon.
4,047 reviews186 followers
June 13, 2022
This was such a great middle grade novel about a young gay boy living in a small rural town who tries to organize a Pride festival despite a great deal of homophobia in his town. Heartwarming and inspiring, this was a great book about finding the courage to be yourself and actively fighting against homophobia. Such a relatable and important read and great on audio! Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance review copy!!
Profile Image for Andrew Eder.
397 reviews7 followers
March 18, 2022
Absolutely DELIGHTFUL. This was a really well portrayed queer experience that is easily connectable for anyone, queer or ally. There were a lot of dimensions to the story between community, family, and friends. The bad is called out and called what it is. The good is celebrated. This was a very well done MG book and I hope Stamper writes more for this age. When I wasn’t reading, it’s all I could think of. When I was reading, it took all I had to slow down and enjoy the story! I really wish I had access to a story like this when I was in middle school. I feel like A LOT would have been different.
Profile Image for Jonathan Stamper-Halpin.
6 reviews2 followers
November 22, 2022
Small Town Pride is a timely and essential LGBT+ book. In a time of book bannings, censorship, and attacks on LGBT+ rights, having books like this accessible to not only queer youth, but people of all sexual orientations, has never been more important.
Profile Image for Scott Garrison.
Author 1 book37 followers
August 22, 2022
Super cute! I wish I had a story like this when I was in middle school.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,350 reviews228 followers
August 2, 2022
This was so so cute. I really loved seeing our MC grapple with what Pride meant for him and how to embrace it in an environment that was set on stifling him.

I am amazed at the vitriol spewed from adults at children in this story, and I wish it wasn't realistic but it hurt my heart.

The big downfall of this for me was actually the narrator. The MC is supposed to be like 12 or something and the narrator doesn't do any justice to that fact, not to mention the horrible voices for the best friend and love interest. I don't know what he was thinking but it drew me out of the story a bit.

I eventually just sped up the book enough that I was able to power through, but I couldn't have handled it for the entirety of the story at anything slower than 2.0x speed.
Profile Image for Brad.
684 reviews9 followers
July 1, 2022
Damn, I wish I had this book when I was in middle school!! This was such a wonderful story about persistence, acceptance, hope, friendship, and kindness.

I want to visit this “village” and walk in the Pride Parade that Jake works so hard to set into motion!!

Loved this little story and I can’t wait to share it with the young people and their families who I come across at work, in my own family, and within the community ❤️
Profile Image for Kristel (hungryandhappy).
1,475 reviews76 followers
June 7, 2022
Did this make my cry? Yes.
Tears of pain and of hope and of happiness.
There's still such a long way to go but maybe, just maybe, things are getting a tiny bit better and safer for small kids finding out who they are.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 352 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.