by CJ

January 19, 2023

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

“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.”

As I write this I have an awful migraine, so it’s going to be short…but I want to get my thoughts out now so I don’t forget.

Like Mandarin is a stunning debut novel. The small town feel is dead on. The characters of Grace and Mandarin are so different, yet so alike. They are beautifully written. Grace, in her own right, is such an innocent character. Mandarin introduces her to a side of herself that she’d never known existed, but Mandarin was such a frightening character at times. I always love books about small towns, especially ones that get it right. I cannot wait for more from Kirsten Hubbard.


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