Friday, July 14, 2017

THE LAND OF 10,000 MADONNAS BY KATE HATTEMER - BOOK REVIEW

Well, I didn't want to not finish this book, but I am just so done with it - I'm calling this one another DNF.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, today it is The Land of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer.


The story follows a group of teens on a trip to Frankfurt, and maybe more of Europe, I didn't get that far. They are all there because of Jesse, a boy who recently died after being born with a hole in his heart. There's the three cousins, Cal, the sassy one, her brother Trevor who's only really concerned with having a good time, and Ben, the oldest cousin who is smart to the point where he is a mockery of smart people. Then we have Jesse's girlfriend, Lillian who deals with the loss of Jesse by sleeping the days away and Jesse's friend Matt, who is your typical non-surfer surfer white frat guy. Yup. Jesse leaves tickets for the group to go to Frankfurt with no real reason, except maybe to find his long-lost mother who abandoned him at birth when they found out about his illness. But maybe not, Jesse didn't really leave clear instructions.

Like I mentioned, I did not finish this book. I made it 200 pages in and I was surprised I made it that far.

I think my biggest issue with this book was the characters and lack of plot. There wasn't one of the characters that I really connected with and for most of them, I just didn't like any of them. And you'd think that in a group of 5, you'd be able to find at least one decent character to cling to. The story was told in alternating third-person perspectives of each of the characters with weird, random flashbacks to events that happened like the day before.

I felt like the storyline was just so convoluted and the narration was choppy, it didn't make for a well-thought out story. I think I would have liked it better if Hattemer had picked one character to tell the story from - I could have dealt with the lack of multiple narrations if it meant I got a decent one.

In terms of plot, I'm not really sure there is one. I mean the gang assumes they are supposed to find Jesse's mom, but he never really said: "yes, find my mom." So they just hop on a plane (which their parents encouraged, despite having no idea what they were going for, other than it was Jesse's dying wish - a concept that is later criticized for not being enough) and head to Germany. The book is just their day-to-day, trying to figure it out. And maybe that is enough of a plot for some people to keep reading, but for me, with the unlikeable characters, it made for a shaky-at-best story.

There was also some random racial and gender stuff thrown in there. Jesse's girlfriend, Lillian, is African-American and Hattemer fails at trying to work that into the story in ways that don't feel like checking off plot points. There was also another point where someone is talking about gender and not only looking at the "heteronormative gender binary." And there is one point where Lillian is mistaken for a maid and then there's a schpeal on white privilege - which, for the record, I'm totally fine with talking about these issues, I think we need to have more diverse reads and look at these issues in our society critically, but the way Hattemer works them into the story, it felt like it was an afterthought that didn't make a lot of sense to me. It was almost like she thought, "ok, we're lacking some plot, but if I throw in some stuff about race and gender, it'll make things more interesting." For me, I was just turned off by how she included it.

I think that the only reason I kept reading this story was that I had a lot of faith in the premise and I kept waiting for some miracle to turn it around. But it never did. There was a lot Hattemer could have done here, but it just was not executed well.

Overall, I would avoid.