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.
Have you ever known someone that you couldn't help but want to be around? Ever felt lost until you met someone who seemed to give your life direction? And have you ever envied someone because their life seemed better then yours?
Grace has always felt lost in the shuffle, restless even. When she meets Mandarin, a free-spirit three years older then her, everything changes. Suddenly Grace is doing things she never thought she would and its all because of Mandarin. But she ends up discovering that her new found friend is more then she can handle.
This book was a break from the stories I usually read. Instead of a love story, at its core is a friendship between two girls. When Grace first meets Mandarin, she looks up to her almost like she's her big sister. Being older then Grace, Mandarin has more life experience and more of what Grace thinks is wisdom. But as they spend time together and grow closer, Grace's eyes open a bit. I thought this was a captivating read and its lesson stays with me. Everything is not what it seems, and neither is everyone. But I think the way we all grow up is based a lot on the trials and tribulations we endure. I liked this book and I encourage everyone to read it too!