Review: LIKE MANDARIN by Kirsten Hubbard

Like Mandarin 
Kirsten Hubbard
320 pages
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: March 8th, 2011
Source: ARC for review
Rating:  LOVED

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.

    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 ever imagine. So when Grace and the older girl are paired for community service project, Grace embarks on a wild ride filled with tears, anger, happiness, and most of all – freedom. Even if her freedom is shortlived.

    Because in a small town like Washokey, Wyoming, there is no such thing as freedom in Grace’s eyes. Everyone knows your past and everyone knows what your doing right then and there, and when and where. Sure there are places she could go to where no one would see her, but that’s not what she wants.

    I think every girl can relate to Grace in some way. And every girl wants to be a little like Mandarin – a bad girl who everyone thrashes in public and envies in secret.

    From the cover, to the title, to the very last page, Like Mandarin was full of adventure. How can it not be, when it includes jackalopes? So if you haven’t picked up this debut, don’t stall, you just can’t miss out!

   And if you have read Like Mandarin, what do you think? :)

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Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.

March 27, 2011



  1. Reply


    March 24, 2011

    WOW! This review is great! I am about to go add this to my to be read list! Jackalopes?? Love it! I know what you mean about the girl that everyone makes fun of but secretly envies! I come from a small town too!

  2. Reply

    Lauren M

    March 24, 2011

    Ah, I can't wait to read this one! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! :)

  3. Reply

    Audrey (holes In My brain)

    March 24, 2011

    luuurve this review! I reviewed this book today too xD I loved Mandarin's character and Washokey is seriously amazingly described. I adored this book too :)

  4. Reply

    The book girl

    March 24, 2011

    I just got this in the mail a couple of days ago, but haven't really started reading it yet. Now I'm definitely going to pick it up today– you make it sound super intriuging (how can it not be, with jackalopes?!). Thanks for sharing your thoughts:)

  5. Reply


    March 25, 2011

    Fantastic review! You can definitely tell that you really enjoyed this book. I've heard so many superb things about this book; I can't wait to pick up a copy :)

  6. Reply


    March 26, 2011

    I like the cover…
    this book sounds fun…

  7. Reply


    March 29, 2011

    It sounds so good. I really have to read it soon!

  8. Reply


    March 30, 2011

    Fantastic review, Hafsah! I won this one from Random Buzzers and I cannot wait to get it. The cover is simple but very pretty and I love the title. I'm happy to hear that you really enjoyed it. Makes me all the more excited to read it! =]

  9. Reply


    January 11, 2013


    I absolutely LOVED this book.