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These Boots Were Made For Walkin’ To The MoMA

Gwendolyn Heasley's A Long Way From You is full of New York delights wrapped in a thick Texas twang.

These Boots Were Made For Walkin’ To The MoMA

BOOK REPORT for A Long Way From You by Gwendolyn Heasley

Cover Story: Harlequin Junior
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Hokey Pokey, Y'all
Bonus Factors: New York City; Art School; Dillon, TX
Relationship Status: Favorite Waitress at the Cracker Barrel

Cover Story: Harlequin Junior

Ok, let's start with the positives. The people on this cover actually look like the characters, and this scene literally happens in the book. In other words, this cover is not a lying liar, and I appreciate that. HOWEVER. It also looks like one of those drug store romance paperbacks, minus the bare chested guy (which, let's be honest, is the best part). And actually, the lack of shirtlessness reminds me of the wholesome romances full of hand-holding that I used to see at the Christian book store back in high school. And that's... not a good thing.

The Deal:

Apparently, this book is a sort of sequel to Where I Belong, which I did not read. (Sorry!) And if you haven't read it either, don't worry, because the story makes it easy to catch up, especially since it features a different protagonist, Kitsy Kidd. Kitsy has spent her whole life in Broken Spoke, TX, where she works at the Sonic, cheers on her quarterback boyfriend and uses make-up as the outlet for her art passion. That is, when she's not taking care of her little brother, Kiki, since her alcoholic mother can barely seem to change out of her robe, much less manage two kids. But when the family of her bestie, Corrinne, offers to fly her to NYC so she can spend the summer at the Parsons art program, Kitsy seizes the opportunity to head out of Texas and spread her wings. But while the world of New York, with its fabulous art museums and cute musician boys, is enticing, Kitsy can't seem to shake the problems she left behind in the Spoke.

BFF Charm: Yay!

Kitsy is an absolute doll! She's charming and earnest and smart, and she's full of Texas twang. In fact, she's practically a Tami Taylor in training. (HIGH PRAISE.) Granted, she felt a little one dimensional in the book, and some of her figures of speech were a little too precious, but I'll let that slide, especially since she could hook me up with free Sonic tots, not to mention MAKEOVERS! (What? These things form a v. important foundation for friendship.) Moreover, Kitsy has a wonderfully compassionate heart, and she works hard to support her little brother and her boyfriend, Hands. I could totally see us spending hours at the MoMA together, then slumber partying it up at Corrine's posh family penthouse! Free Sonic tots and makeovers included, obviously.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Kitsy's boyfriend, Hands, is a completely adorable, slightly oafish sweetheart straight out of Friday Night Lights. Which means, of course, that I love him. He and Kitsy have been together since forever, so there's not any sparkage, but I decided to be generous with the points because Hands has the benefit of reminding me of Luke Cafferty. Then there's Tad, the cute musician Kitsy meets in New York. And I have nothing more to say on that subject, because HIS NAME IS TAD.

Talky Talk: Hokey Pokey, Y'all

Here's the thing. I love Texas. I love the small towns and the accents and the Tex-Mex and the Shiner beer and a billion other things. And I love that this book celebrates all of that goodness... I just wish it didn't feel so contrived. Kitsy's voice constantly borders on parody, especially when she says shizz like this:

This woman's eyes grew Super Sonic Cheeseburger-size when I told her that this was my first flight.

Or like this:

I don't know how they say it in Minnesota, but in Texas, we'd call you crooked as a barrel of snakes.

And one of the worst offenders, her description of a quinceanera:

It's like High School Musical but with way cooler outfits and Hispanic Zac Efrons.

YIKES, Y'ALL. It's a shame that Heasley came up with such fun characters then made them sound so artificial on the page. Or maybe I'm just too old for her bubbly, poppy writing style. There were a few times that Kitsy's sass made the story fun, but when the plot moved to serious territory, the characters weren't deep enough to support it. And here in Texas, we call that a damn shame.

Bonus Factor: New York City

Kitsy has the same sense of enchanted wonder I felt when I went to the Big Apple for the first time. The bustling streets! The late night diners! The breathtaking museums! And it was a treat to experience them all again for the first time through her eyes.

Bonus Factor: Art School

I'd be jealous of Kitsy's time at Parsons if I didn't know how much she deserved to be there. I mean, the idea of taking art classes and befriending a fabulous gay boy named Ford and finding inspiration all over the city sounds like the BEST SUMMER EVER. And also a great teen movie, just FYI, Hollywood.

Bonus Factor: Dillon, TX

Broken Spoke is a small town where Starbucks doesn't exist and football is God. In other words, it's basically Dillon. Unfortunately, Kitsy didn't tell me where I can locate Riggins.

Casting Call:

Skyler Samuels as Kitsy

Well, she's got the perky attitude and the free time, right? And maybe (?) she can handle the Texas drawl.

Matt Lauria as Hands

Duh.

Benjamin Stone as Tad

Yep. Seems like the perfect guy to play a Tad. Plus, we already know he and Skyler have "chemistry"!

Relationship Status: Favorite Waitress at the Cracker Barrel

If this book came up to take my order at the local Cracker Barrel, I'd think it was the cutest thing, ever. Sure, it's full of cliches and stereotypes, but hey, so is Cracker Barrel! This book is as sweet as can be, and while it might not have a lot of depth, it's charming enough to convince me to stay and have dessert. I'm not planning on becoming a regular customer, but I'll certainly leave it a nice tip.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Little Bird Publicity.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). A Long Way From You is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).