Sadly, in Sunshine, Tennessee, gay isn't an option, so Kaycee tries to fit in by having a boyfriend she detests kissing and not admitting to anyone, least of all herself, that she really likes girls. Then a new girl starts at her school and everything goes kind of right and then pretty wrong.
So I should probably start off by saying that I'm British and as such the only things I see about homophobia and hate crimes in America are filtered through the lens of the media. God knows, we don't exactly live in an ivory tower here in the UK as far as bigotry is concerned, but it sounds like if you live in Sunshine, Tennessee and you're gay then it must be an absolute bloody nightmare! Kaycee and her mother attend this church that basically sounds like the Westboro Baptist Church - all God Hates Fags and hellfire and damnation. Her mother isn't much comfort either - she completely buys into the church's teachings and is terrified that her daughter will show her up. The kids at Kaycee's school seem to take after their parents with their bigoted attitudes, too.
I liked Kaycee and felt genuinely sorry for her and the turmoil she was going through and while there were plenty of times where I wanted her to grow a pair and stand up to her friends and the other townsfolk, I could see why this was difficult. The relationship between her and Bren was very sweet and the difficulties they faced as Kaycee tried to accept who she was but also hide from everyone else were pretty heartbreaking.
There were points where I thought the pacing slowed down quite a lot. We got a lot of internal monologue, which I get is important because of all the stuff Kaycee is going through, but I wanted there to be some action in there as well. I thought that there needed to be more tension in the plot. There were lots of opportunities for tension - the threat of sending Kaycee to gay conversion therapy, the conflict between her faith and her sexuality - and I think they needed to be explored more.
The ending was very sweet and I was glad Kaycee got an HEA, but it did seem like many of the previously-bigoted townsfolk and students changed their views pretty darn quick at the end (although I did love the finale with the float - it sounded awesome).