Dumplin' meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this heartfelt and funny contemporary romance inspired by Dollywood, about two boys who fall in love against the backdrop of a country music-themed amusement park, from debut author Brian D. Kennedy. Perfect for fans of Erin Hahn, Phil Stamper, and David Levithan.
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?
Chicagoan Emmett Maguire wants to become country music's first gay superstar. His summer gig performing at Wanda World, a Dollywood-inspired theme park in Sleepy Hollow, Tenn., that's owned by country music legend Wanda Jean Stubbs, is the first step. Luke Barnes is a Sleepy Hollow local who hates country music and wants to be a chef, but that's on the back burner his mother's medical bills take priority, so his dishwashing job at a Wanda World restaurant is the closest he gets to the kitchen. For Emmett, Wanda Jean is an icon, but for Luke, she's a painful part of his family's history a part that means his sexual orientation, his intensifying relationship with Emmett, and even his job must remain hidden. As Luke navigates his many secrets and Emmett struggles with the changes he's expected to make for his dream, the white 17-year-olds must work together to overcome the many roadblocks to achieving their goals. Though Luke's intimately rendered familial and financial hardships feel weightier than Emmett's surface-level pursuit of fame, generating an unbalanced narrative, Kennedy's dual first-person perspectives earnestly showcase Emmett's irrepressible passion for his dreams and Luke's courage in the face of vulnerability, making for a light and hopeful debut. Ages 13 up. Agent: Lauren Spieller, Triada US.