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Like Mandarin

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,097 Ratings  ·  184 Reviews
Paperback, 305 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Ember (first published March 8th 2011)
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Dec 17, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: Phoebe
Shelves: ya, 2011
2.5 stars

Disturbed women is something I definitely enjoy reading about, especially when they are portrayed through the eyes of slightly over-involved observers. It is fascinating to get to know such women who think they have it all figured out but who in reality grossly underestimate the depth of their own wretchedness. Breakfast at Tiffany's and to some degree Girl, Interrupted are the books that explore this premise. And so does Like Mandarin.

High-school senior Mandarin is the famous slut of t
Grace Carpenter has lived in the same small town her entire life. Her mother forced her into pageants when she was younger but Grace sabotaged her way out of them. Now a sophomore (after skipping a grade), Grace has a few interests (collecting rocks, plotting how she might get out of her tiny town) but she spends a great deal of time stalking being mildly obsessed with Mandarin Ramey. Mandarin, a senior, is rather mysterious. She is known around town for her...loose moral character. Grace finall ...more
Steph Su
Mar 01, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cover-lust, debs11
Everyone raved about this book months before it came out. Melina Marchetta blurbed it. It has a stunning cover. Suffice it to say that my expectations going into Kirsten Hubbard’s debut novel were really high. And while LIKE MANDARIN didn’t quite live up to them, suffice it to say that it is still a lovely and evocative book that deserves to be read and beloved.

It is a very risky thing to try and create a MPDG—a “manic pixie dream girl,” the kind of character who seems to embody passion, mystery
I didn't just read this book; I absolutely devoured it. Like Mandarin is the stuff of what a teenage girl's life is made of: a whirlwind of jealousy, desire, ambition, low self-esteem, adventure, betrayal and acceptance, and not a bit of it is written in a shallow way. Whether you've been the odd girl out, that girl, or somewhere in between, this is a book that will have you thinking about the importance of relationships among females: how we get into them, how they shape us, support us and rip ...more
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-teen
The Short Version:
Striking and fluid, Like Mandarin brings a new voice to YA with vivid, highly developed characters and a no holds barred plot. Grace is a perfect compliment and contrast to Mandarin, and the connection and dynamic between them is handled flawlessly. Fleshed out with Hubbard’s stellar writing, there are some strong messages and a poignant realism within this book.

The Extended Version:
Grace is intelligent and mature for her age, but still on the cusp of strong breakthroughs in ma
Claire Legrand
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
LIKE MANDARIN is one of those books I didn't know I'd always wanted to read -- a lyrical, wrenching, absolutely drop-dead exquisite portrait of friendship between two wildly different girls who secretly yearn to be more like the other. It was so refreshing to read a young adult novel that focused not on a romance between the heroine and some brooding, mysterious boy (not that there's anything wrong with that!), but on the, yes, love story between two girls figuring out who they are and what the ...more
Oct 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommend
Cross posted at A Gypsy Writer.

I didn't know about this book until a few weeks ago. When I did, I fell in love with the cover, then with the summary. I live in Wyoming, and not a lot of books are about Wyoming. After talking with Kirsten Hubbard after I won the book in her first giveaway, I found out this book is based in the county I live in. How cool is that? She even wrote in the book that I was meant to win the book. How can I argue with that?

Hubbard's writing is magical. I was so caught up
Nov 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five pages into this book, I looked at my mother and said, "This is depressing. I will never write anything this good."

As I've mentioned before, Kirsten is a master of lyrical, gorgeous prose that still doesn't quite lose the awkwardness and uncertainty of adolescence. Grace has a very grown-up voice, but underneath her intelligence, her obsession with geology and her lonely nature, Grace is a fourteen year old girl. She wants someone to see her. To adore her. To challenge her. To lust after he
Audrey (holes In My brain)
full review on my blog, holes In My brain

This book is… full. It’s hard to describe, it just feels like it’s brimming over with essence and energy from the moment you’re whipped into the story by the winds in Washokey. It feels almost surreal to be so caught up in a complexly simple storyline; Like Mandarin is explosive and impulsive like a shout of laughter, yet reins it all in within a dustbowl of brilliance. This book is damn good.

With a rather simple and somewhat predictable plot, I had to w
Debra Driza
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I picked up this book at ALA Midwinter, and This is a beautifully written story that will stay with you, a story with depth and memorable characters and lush descriptions that make you feel the setting more than visualize it. Grace is a completely likable and believable narrator, and it's easy to see how Mandarin seduces her into becoming a different person for awhile.

This is a story I fully expect to endure the test of time, a fantastic piece of literature that should make the
Hmm. Writing this review is difficult for me, because reading Like Mandarin was a very personal experience and I want to do this book justice. I expected to full-on love Like Mandarin, to the point that the only thing I could do after finishing it was lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling for several hours because I couldn't believe it was over. That didn't happen - my staring contest lasted about twenty minutes and I was good -, but I can honestly say that I'm so glad I finally took the time t ...more
Reading Kirsten Hubbard’s Like Mandarin was such an odd experience for me. It was so clearly this mental image of a place I know so well painted by someone who had only visited. I’ll admit, this made it impossible for me to not be constantly thrown out of the story by the tiniest details that were just plain wrong, whereas the vast majority of those reading would fly by these pieces without thinking twice. For example, being in school mid-June? Yes, large parts of the country do attend school we ...more
Jul 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The very first thing that captured my attention in LIKE MANDARIN was the prose--so lyrical and poignant and intense. Every page packed a punch and had me rereading lines over and over to better absorb the beauty. Hubbard paints such remarkable images with her words--images that are startling in their lush simplicity. There's one image in particular that comes to mind from the very beginning, that of Mandarin as a child looking intense and far too old-soulish for her young body--an image which ju ...more
Margo Berendsen
I'm trying to find something non-cliche to praise this book, in honor of all the great original non-cliches describing Grace and Mandarin and their complicated friendship.

A taste of Mandarin:

She paused a second, backlit, as if surveying her realm. Then she sauntered across the classroom and fell into her seat

A taste of Grace:

Although I liked Ms Ingle [history teacher], sometimes I found myself sneering at our forefathers or extending my middle finger, unseen, in my lap. Then I felt guilty, as i
Kali Gibson
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Like Mandarin, Kirsten Hubbard’s debut novel, is about fourteen-year-old Grace Carpenter and her newfound friend, Mandarin Ramey. The story takes place in Washokey, Wyoming, a small, uninteresting town in the heart of the Badlands. Grace is very smart and insightful, but she doesn’t seem to have many true friends. She is different from the other girls who fit the stereotype of catty teenagers perfectly. She likes to read and has a passion for geology, which contrasts greatly with her mother’s be ...more
Samantha Boyette
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
So so so so good! I wasn't sure I would love this book when I picked it up, but it only took about 2 minutes for me to fall in love with it. As soon as Grace recalled the first time she noticed Mandarin (right after seven-year-old Grace turned her appearance in a local pageant into a bit of a dirty dance show) I was hooked.

Mandarin is every bit the girl I would have fallen for in high school. I'm not sure why I find myself so drawn to these damaged girls, but I do. (It's clear enough with plenty
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
On the Blog I gave it a 4.5 but I like to round up!
Like Mandarin is, in my opinion, way underrated. This one almost escaped my attention and I am so glad I did not miss out. Grace is a 14 year old girl stuck in a small town. Even with a mother who has stars in her eyes in the shape of pageant Tiaras, Grace decides at an early age that the pageant life is not for her. Now she relies on her grades to plan her escape from the small town she loathes. Mandarin Ramey is the local wild child. She has a
Shannon Messenger
I'm pretty sure there's nothing I can say to properly do justice to this absolutely gorgeous book--without using the words "lovely," "beautiful," or "Wow" too many times. But I'm going to try!

There are plenty of reasons to read this book. It's darn good for one thing. (One of the best Contemps I've read). The characters are believable and relatable, the setting is perfectly integrated to the story, and the plot itself is surprisingly page turning for a contemporary novel. But the reason I person
Sarah (YA Love)
Review originally posted at

Like Mandarin released back in March, and to be perfectly honest, I’m mad at myself for not having read it sooner. This book felt like it was meant for my students; I’ve met quite a few Graces and Mandarins over the past four years.

Grace is living in a small town with her single mother and her half-sister, Taffeta. Living in Washokey, Grace has never felt like she fits in. Many of the girls competed in beauty pageants, but Grace ga
I have no idea how to start this review.

Like Mandarin is one of those beautiful, emotional, exhilarating books, the kind with characters so lifelike you want to have a conversation with them and a setting so vivid you swear you've been there. It's the kind of story so resonant and relatable that you overflow with emotions and know you will never run out of praise.

But when you go to review or discuss a book like this, a story as full of feeling as Like Mandarin, you never know where to begin. You
Dec 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally posted:

I've been following Kristen Hubbard's blog since way before Like Mandarin was released, and I've owned the book itself for months, so I'm not sure exactly why I stalled at reading it. I think it was just one of those cases where everything I saw said this was exactly a "me" book, one I would completely fall in love with. It wasn't the case of being scared off by hype, like I was with Stephanie Perkins, because this novel hasn't gotten ne
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like Mandarin was one of those books that I literally devoured from start to finish. It drew me in literally from the first page with Grace's description of her hometown and her life growing up. This book is everything that a normal teenage girl faces in her lifetime. From jealousy, to regret, right down to that awkward feeling you get when you just don't seem to understand the relationship between you and your mother anymore. Grace's life is so real, so palpable, that it's hard not to get wrapp ...more
Melanie McCullough
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorites
Okay, where to begin? Maybe the very first line since, as every great book should, it sucked me in.

The winds in Washokey make people go crazy

The prose just gets better from there. It's lyrical, poignant, intense. Beautiful. It's everything that I, as a writer, aspire to achieve and that I, as a reader, feel honored to experience. Hubbard had me re-reading lines and highlighting passages in an effort to understand their simple brilliance. Nearly every line is a wonder, ripe with the power to squ
Lily (WhoLockian)
Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
Reviewed by Moirae the fates book reviews.

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 sp
Mel Boulrice
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-debut-2011, ya
It took me a good chunk, maybe 100 pages, to be convinced that this book was worthy of all the buzz I'd heard. For those of you that follow my blog, you will know I like happily ever after and to be honest, a majority of this book isn't. I thought I had gotten in over my head but when I finished that last page, I was floored, the arc of the story was beautiful.

Grace and Mandarin couldn't be any different. Grace is the naive, smart, reads books and collects rocks. Mandarin is the town slut, works
Book Twirps
Apr 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kirsten Hubbard captures small town life perfectly in her novel Like Mandarin. Fourteen-year-old Grace Carpenter longs for something more than the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming. When she was younger she was a pageant princess. Her single mother would doll her up and take her out to compete. That all ended after she pulled a stunt during the finale of one of her pageants, humiliating her mother, who then refused to enter her in another. This is also the first time she sees Mandarin Ramey.

Years la
Feb 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a hard review for me to write. Maybe it’s because I relate too closely to the book. Maybe it’s because the nuances of the plot are so subtle that they actually become difficult to write about. Maybe it’s just that I’m not a good writer. I don’t know. I just know that it’s hard.

Kirsten Hubbard has impressed me before, with her lovely book WANDERLOVE. Even so, I didn’t expect to love LIKE MANDARIN nearly as much as I did. There’s something special about this book. The small town of Washoke
Hafsah Faizal
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
See Review on Blog

Like Mandarin is truly a work of art. In her very first novel, Kirsten Hubbard tells a tale of two girls in a small town, where everyone knows everything. The words were so vivid, and the writing so unique, I could feel the wildwinds of Washokey rustling my hair and hear the whispers of the neverending, small-town gossip in my ear while sitting in my quiet room.

Grace and Mandarin are two completely opposite girls - like the moon and the sun - yet more in common than Grace can
Feb 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
'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 fell i ...more
Krista Ashe
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-111-of-2011
Like Mandarin is one of those books I really wanted to read, and then I really didn't. The main reason is I know the author from back in the Absolutewrite days. So there's this pressure of "Oh am I gonna like or hate it or what?" LOL

Here's the truth. Amazing. Read it in a day. I won't say I'm not pea green with envy for Hubbard's beautiful prose and breathtaking figurative language. She has a gift for vividly painting pictures in your mind of everything from the rebellious Mandarin to hijacked s
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In search of transcendent backdrops for her novels, Kirsten Hubbard has hiked ancient ruins in Cambodia, dived with wild dolphins in Belize (one totally looked her in the eye), slept in a Slovenian jail cell, and navigated numerous desert apocalypses (usually in face paint and combat boots). But she always comes home to California.

Kirsten is the author of the young adult novels LIKE MANDARIN and W
More about Kirsten Hubbard...

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“You can't truly hate someone until you've cared about them. Until you've loved them.” 130 likes
“I used to wonder what it would look like if all my footsteps were painted red: all the steps I'd ever taken in all the places I'd ever been.” 34 likes
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