Dress Codes for Small Towns

The year I was seventeen, I had five best friends…

and I was in love with all of them for different reasons.

About the Book

Dress Codes Sm HC CThe year I was seventeen, I had five best friends…and I was in love with all of them for different reasons.

Billie McCaffrey is always starting things. Like couches constructed of newspapers and two-by-fours. Like costumes made of aluminum cans and Starburst papers. Like trouble. This year, however, trouble comes looking for her.

Her best friends, a group she calls the Hexagon, have always been schemers. They scheme for kicks and giggles. What happens when you microwave a sock? They scheme to change their small town of Otters Holt, Kentucky for the better. Why not campaign to save the annual Harvest Festival we love so much? They scheme because they need to scheme. How can we get the most unlikely candidate elected for the town’s highest honor? But when they start scheming about love, things go sideways.

In Otters Holt, love has always been defined one way—girl and boy fall in love, get married, buy a Buick, and there’s sex in there somewhere. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple. Can the Hexagon, her parents, and the town she calls home handle the real Billie McCaffrey?

Author Courtney Stevens delivers an honest, funny, and endearing account of a girl coming to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and sexuality, while facing the opposition that follows.


“With singing prose and a rollicking plot, Stevens presents a rich palette of characters daring to brave familial and societal expectations to become what they’re meant to be. A spirited, timeless tale of teen self-discovery in those tense, formative high school moments, captured with grace, lyricism, and insight.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Stevens moves the narrative beyond small-town drama by building in-depth characters; examining boundaries between friendship and romance, and different generational approaches to religion; and confronting gender and sexual assumptions head-on. [A] beautifully written exploration of human connection, self-discovery, and living to the fullest.” Booklist (starred review)

“Small-town hijinks and the true-to-life interconnectedness of the characters bring warmth and humor to Stevens’s bighearted contemplation of love, family, and home. Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“An instant classic. This is The Perks of Being a Wallflower without the angst, for a new generation. A good choice for every collection.” School Library Journal

“Stevens shows the courage it often takes to find oneself and then to be true to that. This story could contribute to open discussions about gender and sexuality.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))


Golden Kite Honor Book 2017
Rainbow List 2017
A Kirkus Best Book of 2017
ALA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults 2017
CCBC Best of the Year 2017
Bank Street Best Book of the Year 2017

Buy Dress Codes for Small Towns

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For Your Book Club:

Want to read Dress Codes for Small Towns with your book club, click here for a discussion guide.


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