THE LAND OF 10,000 MADONNAS
By Kate Hattemer
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Range: 7 and up
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Knopf (April 19, 2016)
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Five teens backpack through Europe to fulfill the mysterious dying wish of their friend.I was really excited when I received this book to read because the premise sounded like a great read and the cover looked amazing. The cover and blurb makes the story seem like it will be similar to Morgan Matson's Amy & Roger's Epic Detour or Adi Alsaid's Let's Get Lost, but I am sorry to report that is not the case at all. I felt very let down by this story.
Jesse lives with his history professor dad in a house covered with postcards of images of the Madonna from all over the world. They’re gotten used to this life: two motherless dudes living among thousands of Madonnas. But Jesse has a heart condition that will ultimately cut his life tragically short. Before he dies, he arranges a mysterious trip to Europe for his three cousins, his best friend, and his girlfriend to take after he passes away. It’s a trip that will forever change the lives of these young teens and one that will help them come to terms with Jesse’s death.
This is the story of Jesse, who has died at a young age of a heart condition, sending his best friend, his girlfriend, and three cousins on an all-expenses paid trip through Europe. It starts out as a mystery as to why Jesse used his college fund to pay for this trip, but it is because he unfortunately passed away. He left a handwritten journal with entries and clues for everyone and they are to take this trip to figure out Jesse's end goal. These five people are closes to Jesse and all are dealing with his death differently and this trip is to bring them closer together and help them deal with the death of a loved one.
Sounds sweet and endearing, right? I had a tough time remembering the reason for the story because I struggled to connect with any of the characters and found myself not caring. Sure, they were all grieving in their own way over the loss of someone dear to them, but most of them were rude and standoffish. Jesse’s cousin that he was closest to, Cal, was a serious B and I just did not like her. She was very selfish and saw this trip not as a gift but as a burden. The others seemed to forget why they were going and saw it as a free trip to Europe. Jesse was the only character that my heart went out to and he was not even alive during the book.
The story started out very slow and did not ramp up quickly at all. I did not find the trip to be that exciting or mysterious, rather a series of events placed together. This author’s writing was just not my style as I felt it jumped all over and it made it difficult to follow what was going on. I know I may be the black sheep with this book and be on the one person who did not rate it high, but this just did not work for me. That is why I rated this book 2 out of 5 stars.