Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review: LIKE MANDARIN by Kirsten Hubbard


Like MandarinI couldn't wait for this splendid Bookanista Thursday to come.  Couldn't wait to tell the world (listen up, world) why LIKE MANDARIN is an unforgettable book, one I'll be handing over to my students once Spring Break ends (easy now, Break, don't end too soon) and those 9th graders trudge down the halls, knowing very well what's to come.
LIKE MANDARIN'S Grace Carpenter, like the 14 year olds in my school, knows what's to come--and she isn't such a fan.  Washokey, Wyoming doesn't offer much in the way of excitement, nor does her family, whose biggest pride and joy is pageantry. Grace, bookish and bored, sleepwalks around her sleepy town until Mandarin Ramey--dangerous, pretty, promiscuous--inexplicably chooses her as a tutor.   What follows is an unforgettable journey of discovery, love, and loss between two unlikely friends.
The characters are skillfully drawn, the plot is well-paced, and the story couldn't be more REAL.  Whether you're from the badlands of Wyoming or the boogie-down Bronx, every teenager can relate to wanting to be someone else.  In LIKE MANDARIN, Grace actually gets that chance, but how fragile it is.  How fleeting the opportunity.  How strange and perfect and frustrating Mandarin proves to be.  How difficult and enchanting and wonderful it is to be like Mandarin.
And what a pleasure it is to read this wonderful book.