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The Sweetheart of Prosper County

Cover of The Sweetheart of Prosper County

The Sweetheart of Prosper County

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Almost-15-year-old Austin Gray is tired of standing at the curb and watching the parade pass her by. Literally. She decides this is the year she'll ride on the hood of a shiny pickup truck in the annual parade, waving to the crowd and finally showing the town bully that she's got what it takes to be the Sweetheart of Prosper County.

But far from simply being a beauty contest, becoming Sweetheart involves participation in the Future Farmers of America (FFA), raising an animal, and hunting or fishing. Austin will do almost anything to become Sweetheart, and has the support of her oldest friend, Maribel, her new FFA friends (including the reigning Sweetheart, and a quiet, cute cowboy), an evangelical Elvis impersonator, a mysterious Cajun outcast, and a rooster named Charles Dickens. If only her momma would stop overprotecting her, and start letting Austin live her own life. But Austin can't move on until Momma moves on, too—and lets the grief of losing Austin's daddy several years before out into the open.

Here is a bighearted story that will leave readers agreeing with Austin that sometimes, it's not what you ride, it's how you roll.

Almost-15-year-old Austin Gray is tired of standing at the curb and watching the parade pass her by. Literally. She decides this is the year she'll ride on the hood of a shiny pickup truck in the annual parade, waving to the crowd and finally showing the town bully that she's got what it takes to be the Sweetheart of Prosper County.

But far from simply being a beauty contest, becoming Sweetheart involves participation in the Future Farmers of America (FFA), raising an animal, and hunting or fishing. Austin will do almost anything to become Sweetheart, and has the support of her oldest friend, Maribel, her new FFA friends (including the reigning Sweetheart, and a quiet, cute cowboy), an evangelical Elvis impersonator, a mysterious Cajun outcast, and a rooster named Charles Dickens. If only her momma would stop overprotecting her, and start letting Austin live her own life. But Austin can't move on until Momma moves on, too—and lets the grief of losing Austin's daddy several years before out into the open.

Here is a bighearted story that will leave readers agreeing with Austin that sometimes, it's not what you ride, it's how you roll.

Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • Adobe EPUB eBook
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.7
  • Lexile:
    710
  • Interest Level:
    MG+
  • Reading Level:
    3

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Excerpts-
  • Copyright © 2009 by Jill S. Alexander.
    Published in 2009 by Feiwel and Friends.
    All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly...

    1 a hood ornament in the no-jesus christmas parade

    Sundi Knutt had a blue-ribbon-winning sow, a deer hunting license, and a mound of cleavage. She rode on the hood of Josh Whatley's daddy's four-wheel drive Super-Cab Ford. The Future Farmers of America chapter hung posters on each side door glitter-glued with FFA SWEETHEART in all caps. The truck was mirror white, and Sundi, stuffed in a strapless red velvet dress trimmed with real, white rabbit fur, waved to each side of the crowd as the truck poked around the downtown square.

    "Hey!" A voice hollered toward Sundi. It was Dean Ottmer, standing in the middle of his spit-and-scratch so-called friends with his baseball cap on backwards. The cap pushed his straw hair down into his eyes, making him look like a short sheepdog. "Mrs. Claus called and she wants her outfit back!" His gang laughed and high-fived each other. Sundi just rode on, smiling and waving. Being a sweetheart must give a girl that kind of confidence.

    "She looks like a cherry plopped on top of a DQ soft-serve sundae." Maribel sucked on a candy cane, watching Sundi roll by.

    Maribel and I weren't parade royalty. We were just taking up space on the curb, waving back at the sweethearts, hoping to stay off Dean Ottmer's radar.

    "She looks more like an ornament to me," I said. "Just hook a paper clip on her head and hang her from a Christmas tree."

    The truck inched along and so did Sundi's dress. She stopped waving long enough to hook her thumbs under the fur and tug and pull the top up, but it looked about as pointless as trying to carry a couple of big water balloons in a handkerchief.

    The Big Wells High School cheerleading squad came flipping behind the FFA Sweetheart. The Roughnecks' mascot, a girl hidden under an oversized man head with a permanent scowl, threw handfuls of plastic-wrapped candy canes into the crowd. Folks were scrambling around trying to catch them and scooping them off the ground.

    Maribel stepped off the curb, picked up a fistful, and shoved them into her purse—a yellow mesh shoulder bag bearing the unibrowed likeness of Frida Kahlo and the declaration I Paint My Own Reality on the side.

    "You'd think they were throwing money," I said.

    She tucked her black hair behind her ear. "Can't hear you!"

    The school band was going by, tooting and banging out "Jingle Bells." I felt bad for Lewis Fortenberry. He marched in the back row with his tuba. Lewis was knock-kneed, and his blue uniform pants were too small and too snug around his big, flat butt. He looked like somebody squeezed his legs together and the fat parts just spread out over the top of his belt.

    "Austin, he's got bad muffin top," Maribel whispered.

    Dean Ottmer stepped off the curb and got behind the band. He had his T-shirt tucked into his jeans, and his jeans pulled down below his crack. He pinched his butt cheeks together and pretend-marched a few feet behind Lewis. Dean's buddies clapped and yelled, "DEAN-O, DEAN-O, DEAN-O, DEAN-O."

    Lord, Jesus! I threw my head back, looking for some help from above. Dean Ottmer is present. Momma said to pray the problem, not the outcome. She said that in the Bible, Mary doesn't pray for Jesus to bring wine; she just told him they were out, then he gave them a flowing river of wine. Momma said to tell Jesus the problem and let Him solve it in His way in His time. But I added anyway, Ninth grade has been rough, and I've got three and a half years of high school left. And one more time in case He missed it, Dean Ottmer is present.

    I opened my eyes. Dean was still there—the biggest mouth in the crowd lining Main Street. The whole town and half of Prosper County had turned out for the annual Big Wells Christmas...

About the Author-
  • JILL S. ALEXANDER grew up in rural East Texas, where she went to work at age twelve bussing tables at the local truck stop. There, she met folks from all walks of life whose eccentricities color her work today. Jill has survived a tornado and catching on fire. She hates whining but loves fancy shoes, muscle cars, and Johnny Cash—preferably, all three at once. Jill taught high school English and Spanish before deciding to take a chance on writing full-time. A native of Texas, she lives in Tyler, Texas, with her husband and son. This is her first novel.

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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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