Kelly Hager's Reviews > Like Mandarin

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
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's review
Dec 12, 2011

liked it

Grace Carpenter hates her small-town life. Her mom's pageant-obsesed, and since her own disastrous pageant performance (which involved flashing her underwear to the judges, other contestants and basically the whole town), they haven't been very close. Her younger sister's in pageants now, and Grace knows her sister is their mom's favorite. She's not very popular in school and she knows just how forgettable she is. And then she and Mandarin become friends. Mandarin's everything Grace isn't. She's basically a legend in their small town. Grace knows her life would be better if she were just more like Mandarin.

I enjoyed this book, but I didn't fall in love with it. Part of it is that I completely relate to Grace. I know how it feels to be completely forgettable (I was the very definition of "good girl" in high school) and so I don't really understand the fascination Mandarin had for her. While yes, everyone talked about Mandarin, it wasn't in a good way. People spread rumors about her and the general consensus was that she was a slut and she would never amount to anything (well, anything good). It's also pretty obvious almost from the beginning that Mandarin had mental problems. So yes, the idea that Grace became so obsessed with her didn't really ring true to me.

The thing that I really did love about the book was the relationship between Grace and her mom. I feel like a big part of being a teenager is feeling like your parents just don't get you, and Grace had a lot of good reasons to feel that way, but (spoiler) the scene after Taffeta (Grace's younger sister) throws a pageant and her mom talks to the two of them was so incredibly sweet. I could've done with less Mandarin and more family scenes.

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