Jennifer Pickrell

YA Writer

Where everybody knows my name – April Reading List


If you haven’t caught it the other million times I’ve mentioned it, I’m a small-town girl.  I long ago gave up trying to pretend that I didn’t love my hometown with its box stores on one side of the road and cow fields on the other.

So it’s of little surprise that I love books set in my area – I extend “my area” to mean all of Virginia, DC, Maryland, West Virginia, and the Appalachians*, in general.  And I love when a local gal or guy writes a book, regardless of where it’s set.

Which brings me to my April reading theme of Locally Okily.

(all descriptions from Goodreads)


First up, an ARC I just won, which mentions the Appalachians in chapter 1, so it was a last minute addition to my list.

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

On the night of Becca’s high school graduation, the discovery of an unidentified dead girl left to bleed out on the side of a dirt road sends the town—and Becca—into a tailspin. Becca has always longed to break free from her small home town, but as the violence of the outside world creeps into her backyard, she withdraws and retreats inward, paralyzed for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson’s life are intercut with Becca’s own coming-of-age summer, unfolding into the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and tense romantic relationships as the summer’s tumultuous events twist Becca closer and closer to the truth about Amelia’s murder.


Next up, a book I should have gotten weeks ago at the book release party, which I planned to go to, because, you guys, Jodi Meadows lives in Virginia! but I am a klutz and hurt myself and couldn’t drive for a few:

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

New soul

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

No soul

Even Ana’s own mother thinks she’s a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she’ll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?


Sam believes Ana’s new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana’s enemies–human and creature alike–let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else’s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?


Thirdly, a reread for me, which is rare, but I happened upon this at a used book store recently and remember being really moved by it as a kid.  It’s set on a fictional island in the real Chesapeake Bay:

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson

With wry humor, Sara Louise recalls her turbulent adolescence on Rass Island and her intense jealousy of her own twin sister.


Fourthly, another reread, because I mentioned it on the blog not long ago:

Grandpa’s Mountain by Carolyn Reeder

Eleven-year old Carrie loves spending summers with her grandparents in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Their farm with a country store and a lunchroom, is safe and far removed from the terrible depression that grips most of the nation. But this summer, something is happening that will change the lives of all the people who have called the mountains home for generations. The government is creating a national park buying all the land and houses that are in the way. Grandpa is outraged, vowing never to move. Grandma is secretly preparing for the worst. The neighbors are turning against one another. And Carrie, who wants to believe Grandpa will win his battle, is very worried that she has deceived him in a way that may make him lose.


Finally, because it’s baseball season again(!!!!!)

Safe at Home: A Season in the Valley by Austin Gisriel (photo credit)

College baseball players hone their skills in summer leagues all across America. Often playing in small towns and living with host families, the players strive to develop their abilities to the point where they are signed to professional contracts. For the towns, the summer league team is often a major source of local pride and community involvement. Nowhere in America is this more true than in New Market, Virginia, where every game is “not just a game,” it’s an event. Safe at Home: A Season in the Valley tells the story of the 2009 New Market Rebels and the townspeople who house them, feed them, and root for them; welcome them into their homes in June and send them back to their schools in August. In the process, both players and fans become part of something greater than themselves, even if it is just a baseball team in a little town in the Shenandoah Valley.


*Yes, I know, the mtns extend down to Georgia and up North to wherever.

What about you all – any books set in your neck o’ the woods that have stuck with you over the years?


Author: Jennifer Pickrell

I write YA contemporary filled w/ romance, angst & family drama. Things I like: cats, snacks, baseball, green tea, taking pictures of trees & movies so bad, they’re good.

13 thoughts on “Where everybody knows my name – April Reading List

  1. I love hometown books–some of my favorites have been A Gate at the Stairs and The Dive from Clausen’s Pier. And Walk Two Moons had a memorable scene in my hometown.
    Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone sounds awesome!

  2. I’m usually escaping into other realms, fantasy, sci-fi and steampunk alike. So I don’t get to frequent the home town scene. However, I’m currently reading Incarnate. Very interesting thus far.

  3. How fun! I’m a VA girl too–though I don’t actually love it, lol.

    I loved reading about Rob Sheffield’s life in Charlottesville in LOVE IS A MIXTAPE. So heartbreaking, but it was kind of cool to recognize things a bit.

  4. I love your reading lists, and your reasoning behind them. I just read Jacob Have I Loved for a recent book club and really enjoyed it. Several of these sound like good ones. My TBR list is out of control, but I’ll have to write these down. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I have Amelia Anne as a pre-order and I have Jacob, but haven’t read it yet. Thanks for sharing these books.

    I grew up in New York, but I’ve lost track of how many books take place there. I’m in Miami now, but I’ve only seen that setting in a few books.

  6. Amelia Anne sounds amazing. Going to add it on Goodreads. And if I ever get published, you might like my books, 2 out of the 3 I think are potentially good enough are set in the Appalachians.

    I don’t ever remember reading a book about my specific hometown, but Cheryl Herbsman’s Breathing was a sweet summer beach romance set on the Carolina Coast, not so terribly different from what I experienced on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. I loved it.

  7. I remember loving Jacob Have I Loved as a teenager but I can not recall it. I’d like to reread it too. Great list. I think too many books take place in New York City! I prefer small towns too.

  8. Ooh, I’m so intrigued by Amelia Anne. I hadn’t heard of it before, so thanks for putting it on my radar. I’m a fan of Katherine Paterson as well, so I’ll have to check out Jacob I Have Loved as well.

  9. Glad I could help you out with the movie name, Jennifer!

  10. I’m from Virginia, so I love setting my WIPs there. I never knew Jodi Meadows lives in VA, too! I already wanted to read Incarnate, but that fact bumps in up in my TBR pile. 🙂

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