Genuine Sweet

by Faith Harkey
First sentence: “Genuine Sweet.”
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Review copy sent by the publisher.
Content: There’s a bit too much lovey-dovey stuff than I like for books this age (they kiss a bit and hold hands). Even so, it’s really a middle grade novel, so it’ll be in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.

I’m a sucker for small town Southern books. (Unlike Ms. Yingling, who loathes them.) I love the small community feel, the quirkyness, and you throw in a bit of magical realism and I’m sold.

Genuine Sweet has all of that. She lives in a small town in Alabama where everyone knows everyone’s business, so that means everyone knows that her daddy is a drunk. Genuine’s (pronounced gen-u-wine) grandma takes care of her, since her mother’s dead, and it turns out that a gift runs in the female side of the family: wish fetching. They don’t grant them, per se, they sing to the stars and fetch the star juice (for lack of a better word) and give it to people who need things. The one cardinal rule: they can’t grant any for themselves.

So, burdened with this knowledge, Genuine sets out to make life a little better for those in the town. But, even as she does so, things get worse at home. No money, no food, no electricity. And as word gets out about her wish fetching Genuine has more and more pressure to fill them ALL. Which takes a toll.

On the one hand, quirky Southern charm. It was very sweet and very Southern, and I liked the way the magic worked: nothing major, nothing huge, just small little helps that fit in with the mood of the book.

But, even with all the quirkyness and the Southerness and the magic, I didn’t absolutely love this book. Partially, because I thought the romance between Genuine and Travis was a bit, well, out of place in a book aimed toward the younger set. And the drunk dad was pretty unnecessary. As was the angry, bitter woman who opposed Geunine’s wish fetching. And all of that added up to make me like, but not thoroughly enjoy this one.

It was a good book, but I think it could have been so much better.

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