Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard 
Release Date: March 8, 2011
Genre: YA

The Story: (from Random House) It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin. When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. 

Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their Badlands town. Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.

My Review: Grace's story is one that is both difficult and engrossing to watch unfold. She's sick of her small town and fantasizes about getting out someday. She can't understand why her mother, who had left at one point, ever came back in the first place. Grace is intelligent (one year ahead in school even) and sticks mostly to herself at school. She has a deep admiration for two things in her life: rocks and Mandarin. When a teacher requests that Grace help Mandarin with a school project, Grace's infatuation with the wildest girl in town soon turns into a chance for Grace to prove herself.

This is, of course, where things get tangled and adventurous. Over the next weeks Grace learns a wealth of information about Mandarin - and about herself. While Mandarin's behavior was once seen as desirable and even something to aspire to, Grace soon learns there is more to Mandarin than meets the eye.

Like Mandarin is Kirsten Hubbard's debut. It's beautifully written, poetic even. Grace's innocence and Mandarin's lack thereof are the perfect balance for this remarkable tale of maturity and growth. Throughout the book, I found myself just as mesmerized by Mandarin as Grace was. I am in love with the author's ability to create such a fantastic and believable plot. Everything about this book screamed reality, truth, sincere. Having just recently found a new love in contemporary young adult literature, I know that I am going to be counting down the days until I can place myself inside the storyline of another book by Kirsten Hubbard. Honestly, this is just a brilliant novel. 

My Rating
This review is part of the Like Mandarin blog tour with The Teen {Book} Scene. Click the image below to follow along with the rest of the tour.


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