Published: September 8, 2015Publisher: Harper PaperbacksPages: 416Received: for honest review via publisher and TLC Book ToursFrom a bright new talent comes this debut novel about a young woman who travels for the first time to her mother’s hometown, and gets sucked into the mystery that changed her family forever
Mattie Wallace has really screwed up this time. Broke and knocked up, she’s got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags, and nowhere to go. Try as she might, Mattie can no longer deny that she really is turning into her mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn’t make.
When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance left by a grandmother she’s never met, she jumps at this one last chance to turn things around. Leaving the Florida Panhandle, she drives eight hundred miles to her mother’s birthplace—the tiny town of Gandy, Oklahoma. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery—a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town thirty-five years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back. But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother, and it happened here. The harder Mattie digs for answers, the more obstacles she encounters. Giving up, however, isn’t an option. Uncovering what started her mother’s downward spiral might be the only way to stop her own.
Hilarious, gripping, and unexpectedly wise, The Art of Crash Landing is a poignant novel from an assured new voice.
"When you're ass deep in lemons, you start looking for a shovel, not a pitcher and a cup of sugar."
From the beginning of this book I adored Mattie. She's not your typical heroine, but she gives it her all no matter what life sends her way. She's sassy, yet determined. She is smart and witty, yet broken and feels like her life is just a repeat of her mothers.
When she feels like it can only get worse from here on out, she travels with all her possessions in a run down 1978 Malibu, pregnant by her most recent deadbeat boyfriend and hoping above all hopes that the inheritance she is on her way to accept will help her out of her latest struggles.
As she arrives in Gandy, Oklahoma in her broke down car, she makes friends with the most unlikely group of people. Luke, the estate lawyer (also a paraplegic); Karleen, her mom's old high school friend; Tawny, a teenager trying to find her way; Aunt Fritter, a grumpy old librarian; JJ, the mechanic fixing her car and the Winstons, the dogs her grandmother left behind. The best supporting character is her stepfather Queeg, who has nothing but enduring love for her no matter how messed up her life becomes.
"I have ninja skills when it comes to screwing things up. It's like a superpower only lamer."
With the help of all the new people in her life, she begins to piece together the hot mess that was her mother's life and begins to figure out her own along the way. Only after having solved the mystery of her mother's life is she able to let go of her sorrow and regret and finally forgive herself for the things she feels responsible for. She grows so much in this story and it's an amazing journey to take with her.
"We are all more than the worst thing we have done"
I loved this book so much and all of the amazingly quotable witty things the Mattie says, hence all of the quotes in this post! I'm also looking forward to more by DeCarlo.
About the Author:
Melissa DeCarlo was born and raised in Oklahoma City, and has worked as an artist, graphic designer, grant writer, and even (back when computers were the size of refrigerators) a computer programmer. The Art of Crash Landing is her first novel. Melissa now lives in East Texas with her husband and a motley crew of rescue animals.