Book Review–Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard



This is the 18th book from my 114 in 2014 Reading Challenge.

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Like Mandarin  by Kirsten Hubbard
Published March 8th 2011 by Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers


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.




I’ve been hearing great things about this book for a while but just now got my hands on it. Whoever kept saying these great things were right. This was a great read.

Shy characters can be kind of hard to write. Sometimes they come off as boring. Not so much in this one. Grace, the shy MC, definitely does not lack any personality. Her interesting past and family life is a plus. And while it was a bit weird at times, her infatuation with Mandarin was fascinating. I’m not sure I have ever felt quite like that before, but I have been slightly infatuated with people much more different than me so I could relate well to Grace there.

I really liked Mandarin’s character, too. She comes across as this free spirit who wants a better life for herself but also has some deep rooted issues. Her friendship with Grace was realistic. I feared the book would end on a frightening note regarding her, but thankfully it didn’t. Kudos on scaring me, though.

The relationships in this book were realistic and intriguing. Not only with Grace and Mandarin, but also Grace and her mother, Grace and her little sister, Mandarin and her own parents. The setting seemed so real I felt like I was actually there. And though I am already not a huge fan of child beauty pageants, this book affirmed my dislike for them.

The only thing I disliked was poor Davey’s situation with Grace, but things seem to be looking up for him more in the end so that pleased me. I also figured out right away what the deal was with him. Would have liked to see more of him, but I know that also may have taken more time from the main focus.

Great read with deep characters and an interesting story. Recommended!







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