The Land of 10,000 Madonnas – Kate Hattemer

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The Land of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer

Division 4 and up
Received: Library
Publication Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: Knopf
4.5 out of 5 stars

The Blurb:
This book tells the story of 5 teenagers backpacking through Europe through 6 perspectives: the 5 teens and their friend whose dying wish was to send them. The teens are working through their grief, trying to figure out how to travel with people they barely know, and all the while attempting to figure out why Jesse would send the five of them on this wild goose chase of a trip.

The stories you hear as a child take hold. They change everything because they change how you see everything.

The Nitty-Gritty:
I really enjoyed this novel. I’m a sucker for a good road trip story, and Kate Hattemer’s vibrant characters certainly made for an interesting ride. One of my main problems with alternating points of view is that too often, the characters’ voices are so similar that there is virtually no point to switching the perspectives. These characters, however, were so strikingly different that the different perspectives contributed greatly not only to the plot, but to our understanding of Jesse (the one who sent everyone on the trip in the first place). The characters aren’t “likable” either. Each character is so imperfect and flawed, and interacts with the others in such unhealthy ways. It was refreshing to read characters like that. To see these characters grieve in a way that wasn’t the “right” way to grieve, that didn’t actually deal with their emotions, that cut them off from the people around them…it felt real.

I enjoyed the flashbacks with Jesse, and his notebook of stories to his cousin. I loved that they were short, and seemingly disconnected, and didn’t necessarily feel relevant. Because they felt like flashbacks that you have after someone has died. You suddenly remember things that you haven’t thought about for years. Or you can only remember one or two really weird things that happened three years ago, that aren’t necessarily indicative of anything, and don’t even begin to encapsulate your relationship with that person, but that’s what you remember.

Without knowing, she had always counted down toward that day, and for the rest of her life it would be the point from which she would mark her time.

The Verdict:
While the plot itself and a few of the characterizations may have been a little outlandish, this story felt true. The way that these kids dealt with an unfair hand felt real. None of them fell in love with each other, and that felt right. At the end of the book, they were still in the process of admitting things to themselves, and that was good. This novel had teens struggling to deal with the adult consequences of the real world, and it was as frustrating  and confusing and comical as coming of age truly is.

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One thought on “The Land of 10,000 Madonnas – Kate Hattemer

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Underrated Books (that I’ve read in the past year or so) – Wrecked My Eyes Reading

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