Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America

Cover Designer: Matt Roeser; Illustration Designer: Lemberg Vector studio/Shutterstock

Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9781536212105

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Think you know what rural America is like? Discover a plurality of perspectives in this enlightening anthology of stories that turns preconceptions on their head.

Gracie sees a chance of fitting in at her South Carolina private school, until a “white trash”-themed Halloween party has her steering clear of the rich kids. Samuel’s Tejano family has both stood up to oppression and been a source of it, but now he’s ready to own his true sexual identity. A Puerto Rican teen in Utah discovers that being a rodeo queen means embracing her heritage, not shedding it. . . .

For most of America’s history, rural people and culture have been casually mocked, stereotyped, and, in general, deeply misunderstood. Now an array of short stories, poetry, graphic short stories, and personal essays, along with anecdotes from the authors’ real lives, dives deep into the complexity and diversity of rural America and the people who call it home. Fifteen extraordinary authors – diverse in ethnic background, sexual orientation, geographic location, and socioeconomic status – explore the challenges, beauty, and nuances of growing up in rural America. From a mountain town in New Mexico to the gorges of New York to the arctic tundra of Alaska, you’ll find yourself visiting parts of this country you might not know existed – and meet characters whose lives might be surprisingly similar to your own. 

Contributors: David Bowles, Joseph Bruchac, Veeda Bybee, Nora Shalaway Carpenter, Shae Carys, S. A. Cosby, Rob Costello, Randy DuBurke, David Macinnis Gill, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson,  Estelle Laure, Yamile Saied Méndez, Ashley Hope Pérez, Tirzah Price, and Monica Roe.

Learn more about my short story, “Best in Show.”

An NPR Best Book of 2020
Country Living Magazine Front Porch Book Club Pick
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Edition Selection
A Bank Street Best Book of the Year

Available as a hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook narrated by Diana Blue and Emmanuel Chumaceiro.

Praise for Rural Voices:

Tirzah Price’s “Best in Show” is a standout, offering a resonant look at a Michigan teenager who feels she must defend her passion for pig showing while struggling to act upon her queerness.” –Publisher’s Weekly

“Although the obstacles and challenges faced in each tale vary, each voice feels authentic… From laughing alud to holding back tears, readers who enjoy emotionally resonant books will not be disappointed. VERDICT: A great addition that explores an often misrepresented portion of readers.” –School Library Journal

“The strength of the collection is how well it demonstrates the universality of themes such as belonging, family struggles, grief, the desire for individual growth, the meaning of home, and challenging injustice…The compilation successfully meets the challenge of serving as a cohesive whole while providing readers with enough variety of tone, pace, and voice to keep the reading experience interesting. A fresh and highly accessible contribution.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Every story in this collection tackles life in small-town America and asks the reader to consider the multiplicity of factors that comprise the identities of the characters, whether they are bisexual and Catholic in a in a poverty-stricken region of Texas, a dreamer who aims to become the first Puerto Rican Rodeo Queen in Utah, or a young Black man lacking class privilege and unsure of how to make his dreams a reality. These stories peel off the layers of the characters through short prose pieces, poetry, and graphic novel panels. The stories span a range of tones, from funny, to heart-breaking, to one that readers will not want to experience alone at night…The writers bring authentic voices to their work in addition to their biographies, shared at the back of the book. This collection will be a high-interest read for middle and high school students…. This book is a must-purchase for libraries serving middle and high school readers.  Highly Recommended” –School Library Connection, July 2020

The stories, each one a sweetly crafted gem, are like exquisite stops along the lesser-traveled roads that lead to–or away from–home place, those small towns and villages that serve not only as beginnings and endings, but more importantly as the very middles of our hearts. It’s like getting off the interstate and just letting the road take you there. You won’t be sorry.

Kathi Appelt, Newbery Honor and National Book Award Honor author of The Underneath

A rich, not to be missed collection that defies stereotypical images and reflects the actual diversity and economic realities of teens living in rural areas today.

Traci Sorrell, author of We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

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