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.
Summary taken from Goodreads
I've never been to the badlands in Wyoming, but after reading this, it sure feels like I have. The setting in this book was rich and gave you more than a clear picture. It was like you could feel the wildwinds blowing on you. It was by far my favorite part.
Hubbard's writing was also beautifully done. She definitely knows how to turn a phrase, that's for sure. I found myself rereading quite a few different passages just because of how well they were written.
But even with the gorgeous, real as life setting and wonderful turns of phrase, I just couldn't connect with any of the characters. I've admired people before, but it doesn't come close to how badly Grace wanted to be exactly like Mandarin. Not even like her really, she just wanted to be Mandarin. And I couldn't even figure out why! Sure Mandarin was beautiful, but she was clearly damaged right from the start. I couldn't relate to the story or the characters.
I will be picking up Wanderlove by Hubbard for sure though. Her writing was enough for me to want to read more by her. Plus the premise of this one sounds more my style.
Sadly, this book only ended up being a two star read for me.