Two nights ago I polished off Cliques, Hicks and Ugly Sticks by K.D. McCrite, the second book in a series about spunky April Grace Reilly. I read the first book, In Front of God and Everybody, last summer (read my review here), and immediately fell in love with the eclectic cast of characters which included April Grace and her parents, older sister Myra Sue, and Grandma; snooty California transplants Ian and Isabel St. James; and retro hippie neighbors Forest and Temple Freebird.
Needless to say I eagerly anticipated the publication of this newest book, which was released in December, just to see what other interesting adventures April Grace would find herself the second time around!
Cliques, Hicks and Ugly Sticks once again takes place in Arkansas during the year 1986, and reunites readers with the Reillys, St. Jameses, and the Freebirds. There are lots of changes happening in April Grace's life during this time, and once again, she records her observations of each situation with complete, unabashed honesty. From having to deal with nice-girl-turned-snob Lottie Fuhrman during her first year of junior high school to helping Isabel direct the church Christmas play, April Grace tells it like it is - and again manages to surprise herself by what she learns in the process.
The plot line I consider to be the best crafted was that which dealt with April's mother's pregnancy. Not only does April Grace have to deal with the fact that she is no longer going to be the youngest child in the family and what this means for her future, but her mother also endures a series of health problems during this time - so April Grace's emotions go through a roller coaster ride throughout the story. Her anger, confusion, and sadness at the situation was palpable, and I found myself truly praying for a good outcome in the end.
So if you are a fan of YA and haven't yet gotten acquainted with April Grace Reilly, I'd say it's about time to do so! After all, not only are you missing out some truly refreshing characters, but book 3 is already on the horizon!