After hearing so many great things about Hubbard's debut and finally reading it for myself, I'm left feeling very conflicted.Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Release Date: March 8, 2011
Pages: 305 (ARC)
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Most Appropriate For Ages: 12+
Where I Got It: From RandomBuzzersIt'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.
I thought Hubbard's writing was great, especially when describing the setting. But I thought that describing Mandarin's appearance every page was a bit much, and made her beauty seem almost forced.
While I found Mandarin to be interesting enough, I never really connected with her like I wanted to. And unfortunately, I found the main character Grace very annoying. She was constantly fixated on what others thought of her. I realize that her agitating personality was part of the story--and she did develop as the story went on--but it still bothered me a lot.
The ending of Like Mandarin was powerful, but for me, the rest of the book wasn't nearly powerful enough. I see great potential in aspects of Hubbard's writing, though, and I'll be reading her next book. I just missed something in Like Mandarin, sadly.
Plot: A bit on the slow side.
Writing: Great in some aspects, but slightly lacking in others.
Ending: Powerful and fitting.
Kid friendly? There's language, mentions of sex, drinking, and an attempted rape.
Should I read it? Yeah, I'm definitely in the minority of people who didn't adore it.