I go through two or three books a week, so I don’t always remember everything I read, even if I enjoyed it in the moment. One book I will never forget is Jill McCorkle’s first novel, The Cheer Leader. I was 12 when the cover caught my eye in my hometown’s local bookstore (still standing!) and I just inhaled it once I got it home. It’s a perfect coming of age, first love, teenage breakdown story; billed as The Catcher in the Rye meets The Bell Jar in the 1970’s South, it’s funny and heartbreaking and beautiful. I’ve given this book to lots of reader friends over the years, and I’ve re-read it countless times myself. I just revisited it last month after many years and it still just knocked me out. One of my all time favorites, one of my first loves of literature. Jo Spencer, I’ve thought of you every time I’ve put on a pair of sunglasses over the last 30 years.




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