Released: March 2011
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Teen Book Scene
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.
There are so many great debuts coming out this year, and Like Mandarin is no exception. Grace's character is one of the best examples of a wallflower. She's super smart, has a lot going for her, but you she can't seem to crack out of her shell. It doesn't make it easier when she has a little sister who is the apple of her mother's eye due to being in many beauty pageants and having a voice like an angel. Due to how Grace is, Mandarin, the mystery of her and how she acts is very alluring.
Maybe because I know of a few people like Mandarin, I had a love/hate relationship with her character. But because of how Grace was, I understood why she was so desperate in trying to keep their friendship together. Mandarin is definitely a character who you never know what she's going to do next. As the story grows, you can see how much in some ways Mandarin is a good person deep down when it comes to Grace, but also how much she relies on her too.
This book was such a wonderful story of friendship, trust, and the downfall of both. I was very impressed with Kirsten Hubbard's writing. She's one of those authors who make words flow together look extremely easy when we all know it's not. Not only did she do a great job of bringing characters to life, but she wrote the town where I could understand why Mandarin was so desperate to leave it. I will definitely be looking forward to the next book Hubbard writes!