Review: A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy

Review: A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy

A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy is a love letter to country music and a touching story about following your dreams. Set in a Dollywood-inspired theme park, I was charmed by the unique setting, complicated family history, and contrasting main characters that this one contains. The author’s passion for country music genuinely comes through on every page, making this an entertaining and layered story that is perfect for summer reading.

Review: A Little Bit Country by Brian D. KennedyTitle: A Little Bit Country
Author: Brian D. Kennedy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult Fiction
Publication Date: June 7, 2022
Rating: four-stars

Summary (from Goodreads):

Emmett Maguire wants to be country music’s biggest gay superstar – a far reach when you’re seventeen and living in Illinois. But for now, he’s happy to do the next best thing: Stay with his aunt in Jackson Hollow, Tennessee, for the summer and perform at the amusement park owned by his idol, country legend Wanda Jean Stubbs.

Luke Barnes hates country music. As the grandson of Verna Rose, the disgraced singer who had a famous falling out with Wanda Jean, Luke knows how much pain country music has brought his family. But when his mom’s medical bills start piling up, he takes a job at the last place he wants: a restaurant at Wanda World.

Neither boy is looking for romance, but sparks fly when they meet – and soon they’re inseparable. Until a long-lost secret about Verna and Wanda comes to light, threatening to unravel everything.

Will Emmett and Luke be able get past the truths they discover…or will their relationship go down in history as just another Sad Country Love Song?

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❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃


Review: A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy

For Emmett, an aspiring country superstar, working at Wanda World is a great opportunity to launch his career. Luke, on the other hand, dreams of becoming a chef, and finds himself as a dishwasher in a Wanda World restaurant, despite his hatred for country music. When the two meet at the park, the connection is undeniable, however, when family secrets are unearthed, their relationship starts to get complicated. As Emmett and Luke are presented with tough choices, especially ones that influence their own aspirations, they must get past old family drama and stick with one another.

❀ Strong Main Characters

Emmett and Luke are both strong characters, and I loved the contrast between them. Emmett is a major country music fan and hopes to become country music’s biggest gay superstar. I loved how he stays true to himself and is determined to become successful on his own accord, even when he is presented with an opportunity that could change his life forever, and I loved his efforts to dismantle homophobia in country music. Complementing Emmett’s character, Luke hates country music and struggles to come out to his family. Luke’s family is also wrapped up in high-profile country music drama, leading him to take his job at Wanda World in secret. Both characters make mistakes throughout the book, and I appreciated this realism.

❀ Theme Park Setting

One of the most charming parts of this book is the theme park setting and the love for country music at its core. Wanda World itself, based on Dollywood, feels so real, and the author does an excellent job working a bit of magic into the narrative through this attraction. Country music also plays a major role in the story, and I could feel Brian D. Kennedy’s love for this music seeping through every word. I’m not a country fan myself, but reading such vivid descriptions of the impact and beauty of this genre has convinced me to give it another try.

❀ A Charming Story

A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy is a charming story centred around country music. I loved the contrast between the two main characters, and the Dollywood-inspired theme park setting brings so much intrigue to the story. This is a book that has been crafted with passion, and I would definitely recommend it to country fans and country haters alike.

Book quotes: A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy

“Country music ruined my nana’s life. There’s no way I’m letting it into mine.”

“There are a million reasons why I love country music. Each song tells a story. Sometimes it’s fun and campy–and sometimes it hits upon something so real and so true, you’re certain whoever wrote it was able to peer into your soul and put everything you were feeling into words.”

About Brian D. Kennedy

Brian D. Kennedy

Brian D. Kennedy writes books for young adults. His debut novel, A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY, will be released by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray in summer of 2022. Born a Minnesotan, Brian now lives in New York City, where he works at a LGBTQ non-profit. His slightly unhealthy obsessions include: seeing as many Broadway shows as possible, buying weird trinkets off ebay, and all things Dolly Parton.

12 thoughts on “Review: A Little Bit Country by Brian D. Kennedy

  1. Angela says:

    Ever since my brother moved to OK, I’ve become a fan of country music, so this sounds really fun! I love the Dollywood inspired park setting, too.

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