Review | South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf

I received an advanced e-copy of this book from the publishers through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

‘For the first time in my life, I feel like I can truly be myself.’

south of sunshine

Goodreads Synopsis:

What is Kaycee willing to risk for the sake of love?
And what will she risk for acceptance?

In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes, ma’am” when the local bigots gossip at her mom’s cosmetics salon, and avoiding certain girls at all costs. Girls like Bren Dawson.

Unlike Kaycee, Bren doesn’t really conceal who she is. But as the cool, worldly new girl, nobody at school seems to give her any trouble. Maybe there’s no harm if Kaycee gets closer to her too, as long as she can keep that part of her life a secret, especially from her family and her best friend. But the more serious things get with Bren, the harder it is to hide from everyone else. Kaycee knows Sunshine has a darker side for people like her, and she’s risking everything for the chance to truly be herself.


My rating:  *  *  *  *

I. Adored. This. Book.


It’s been a while since I’ve read a contemporary, and I’d forgotten how great the genre could be. Though fantasy and paranormal books are amazing, they don’t hold that sense of reality that a contemporary does (which it is supposed to), and sometimes it’s lovely reading a real-life situation book.

Having personally only read one LGBTQIA book before (Carry On by Rainbow Rowell), and having it be a fantasy, I was hoping this book would give an insight into gay people’s lives in a real-life context.

And it did – in a really great way.

It was interesting to see how our main character, Kaycee, reacted to how she was treated just because she was gay. It was incredibly sad at times, and I do admit I nearly cried. It was so disgusting how gay people were treated in Sunshine – I’m not going to lie, there were moments where I wanted to throw the book across the room because of some people’s ignorance – and I find it horrible that this happens in real-life.


People shouldn’t be defined by what gender they love, and should be able to be proud of who they are. It was lovely seeing Kaycee finally accept herself for who she is, and watch her personal growth through-out the book, to the point where she finally started to stand-up for who she was.

The plot and writing were great, though I will say I found that some bits were a bit lengthy that maybe didn’t need to be – however, this was nothing major, and it wasn’t done in a bad way at all! I could have found it lengthy just because I was reading it on my iPhone, and it feels like you’ve turned a million pages on there when in fact you’ve only read one page in a physical book.

Slight Spoiler!

In all honesty, I did find the ending quite rushed. I was hoping for a bit more than that – I mean, I loved the last chapters of the book, because it was Kaycee finally accepting who she was. But I would have liked a little more detail at the end, as it felt like we rushed from one thing to another, unlike the rest of the book where we got plenty of detail.

End of Slight Spoiler!

This book was very sweet, and extremely enlightening. The plot was very interesting and the characters – I just fell in love with them. Our author, Dana, has done such a great job with this one guys. I recommend this book to anyone who likes contemporary books, romances or who generally like reading awesome books!

It’s published on the first of April, and you can pre-order it from Amazon here!


– Emma

Read On!

One thought on “Review | South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf

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