Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Published: March 8th 2011
Source: Won in a giveaway
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Buy: Amazon ~*~ Barnes & Noble
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Caution: May contain spoilers
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.
When you read a synopsis like that, you know you're going to be taken on a journey. Those stories, to me, are amazing. A journey into a new perspective, a new take on life. That's what this one gives.
Grace is already to a point of frustration when Mandarin becomes part of her life. Grace is afraid of stepping out there, but Mandarin's carefree (and sometimes careless) spirit causes her to take a step. Grace is swept into a different world with Mandarin, one that takes her away from the world she once knew. While Mandarin has a new view on life, and a desire for something better outside Washokey, she's got this other side to her, one that is a little bit off-kilter. There's something dark about her, but at the same time you want to scoop her up because you know she's dark because of something. Grace tries to ignore it since she wants so much to be like Mandarin, but sometimes ignoring signs can have consequences.
Like Mandarin was very much in the style of Kirsten Hubbard--hard not to love. I could feel Grace's struggles of pleasing people and desiring to really live and go outside your box. It's a deep story with twists and it's just perfect in its imperfection.