Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Release Date: March 2011
Published By: Delacorte Books
Pages: 320 pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.08 stars
Review: Grace is sick of her home town Washokey, her mother's obsession with beauty pageants, and her close-minded classmates. But there's one good thing about the small Wyoming town, and that's beautiful, wild Mandarin Ramey. Grace would do anything to be like her, and that wish starts to come true when the two become friends. However, she soon learns that Mandarin's carefree exterior hides a broken girl, and as much as she admires - or admired - Mandarin, not even their friendship can sustain betrayal.
The first thing that jumped out at me with LIKE MANDARIN was how gorgeous the writing was. It's clear from the very beginning that Kirsten Hubbard is a remarkably talented writer, especially with her descriptions. She transformed the fictionalized Washokey, Wyoming into a real, desolate, and beautiful place. In general, I'm not a major nature-appreciator nor am I particularly interested in the settings of books. However, when I was reading the descriptions in this book, there was nothing more I wanted than to be transported to Washokey.
Of course, the setting wasn't the only brilliant aspect of this novel. Each character was heartbreakingly honest with their own flaws and dynamics that made them feel so true to life. None of the characters were perfect, and none were bad, but instead each was a human being. Grace in particular had several flaws but they contributed to make her the distinctive voice she was.
I've read only glowing reviews for this book, and it's no wonder why. LIKE MANDARIN is a gorgeous book that easily makes its way on my Best of 2011 list. Words can't even describe how gripping, how deep, how real and beautiful and amazing I found this book to be. All I can say is that this is the rare kind of book that I want to read over and over and over again, and I hope that each and every one of you reading this blog post right now will pick it up and fall into its beauty the same way I did.