Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

Reading Level: Young Adult

Hardcover: 320 Pages

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 978-0-385-73935-1

My Rating: 5/5
It's hard to find beauty in the Badlands of Washokey, Wyoming. Fourteen-year-old Grace Carpenter sure knows there's nothing beautiful about her mother's pageant obsessions, or about the cowboy dances or pickup trucks adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild girl Mandarin Ramey: seventeen, shameless, and utterly carefree. Studious and self-conscious. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin.
When these girls, so utterly different from one another, are united for a school project, they embark on 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. When Mandarin suggests that they make a pact to run away, Grace goes along with the idea on a whim. Maybe it's the wildwinds that plague their badlands town the make her say yes.
After a while, however, Grace has second thoughts. It turns out that Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled-even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep their friendship alive, even the strongest relationships can't withstand betrayal.

'Like Mandarin' easily surpassed my expectations. I was completely hooked by Grace and Mandarin by the end of the Chapter 1. I love to read fantasy books with supernatural creatures and the works but every once in a while, it's good to touch ground with something as stunningly beautiful as 'Like Mandarin.' Hubbard has an amazing capability to write a captivating story that's so compelling, you can't stop reading till it's over! The worst part of this book for me, was that it had to end. I feel in love with Grace and Mandarin.

The story is told through Grace, a high school student who is advanced for her age. Being skipped up in school because she's overly smart, she comes across withdrawn and isolated. She has this...unhealthy obsession with Mandarin Ramey. They slowly become friends and the book is basically their story. Mandarin is as toxic as they come, at least for Grace. She tries to corrupt her by putting her in the most undesirable situations. In the beginning of the book, Grace is normal, good grades, tried to keep to herself. After meeting Mandarin, she's dressing a little more provocatively, and acting a little more crazy. When it comes to Mandarin, everything else is second.

Hubbard created an amazing story. 'Like Mandarin' has definitely been one of my favorite books of 2011. It's incredible! I wish that I could share a little piece of the world that she has created in 'Like Mandarin' with everyone. I can't wait to read more from Kirsten, but I have to admit, it will be hard to pass the bar set with 'Like Mandarin.'

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