Published by Harper ISBN 978-0-06-239054-7
Trade paperback, $15.99, 416 pages
With so much out there competing for our ever-dwindling attention span, a great first sentence is the key to grabbing the reader's eye. Melissa DeCarlo's debut novel The Art of Crash Landing has a doozy:
"Twenty-seven minutes is, if anyone ever asks, exactly how long it takes to cram everything I own into six giant trash bags."I ask you, how can you not want to read the rest of this book?
Mattie Wallace is thirty years old, pregnant, underemployed, drinks too much and now she is moving out of her soon-to-ex-boyfriend's home. She goes to her deceased mother's former boyfriend, a man she calls Queeg, for help.
I loved the relationship between Queeg and Mattie. Mattie had a tough childhood, her mother was an alcoholic who moved around a lot and dated many men. They moved in with Queeg and although Mattie had her issues with him, he cares a great deal for her and she loves him too. He is the only solid thing in her life.
Mattie discovers that her mother's mother has died and with nowhere else to go, Mattie takes off for Grandy, Oklahoma, where her mother grew up. Her grandmother has just passed away, and Mattie received a letter from a lawyer stating that she may have an inheritance.
The tiny town of Grandy has an entire cast of interesting people, and the small-town feel shines through in this story. Mattie's car breaks down and she manages to find JJ, the town's mechanic who tells her it's going to be awhile and expensive to fix the car. He and Mattie clash right away.
Next up is a visit to the lawyer's office where she meets Luke, a paralegal, who tells Mattie that settling the estate may take awhile. While she waits, she stays in her grandmother's home. She has no cash and no job, so Luke takes pity on her and convinces his aunt, the town librarian, to give Mattie a job.
Mattie wants to find out why her mother just up and left her hometown when she was seventeen and never looked back. The woman people in town describe as her mother doesn't sound like the alcoholic, broken-down mother she knew. What happened in her past to make her this way?
The Art of Crash Landing has terrific characters in a wonderfully real setting, DeCarlo has some great lines in the book, like Mattie saying that "Sometimes my entire life has felt like one long exercise in lowering expectations." And Luke tells her that "needing to change your life isn't enough. You have to want it too."
Any book partially set in a library is sure to make me smile, and I laughed as Mattie goes to work on her first day "managing to achieve a reasonably arresting librarian--on-the-skids look" in her grandma's borrowed clothes. And her description of the group of middle-aged men who hang out at the library as "Grandy's intelligentsia" had me in stitches.
The Art of Crash Landing reminded me of Joshilyn Jackson's Someone Else's Love Story (they even have similar covers) in its tone, humor and sassy protagonist. I highly recommend The Art of Crash Landing and I'd love to return to Grandy in the future to see how Mattie and company is doing. (Sequel please!)
Melissa DeCarlo's website is here: http://www.melissadecarlo.com/
Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Melissa DeCarlo's tour. The rest of the tour stops are here:
Melissa’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, September 8th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, September 10th: The Book Bag
Friday, September 11th: Cerebral Girl in a Redneck World
Tuesday, September 15th: Literary Lindsey
Wednesday, September 16th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, September 17th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, September 18th: bookchickdi
Friday, September 18th: Fuelled by Fiction
Wednesday, September 23rd: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, September 24th: Kahakai Kitchen
Friday, September 25: 5 Minutes for Books
Monday, September 28th: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, September 30th: A Bookworm’s World
Thursday, October 1st: A Bookish Affair
Monday, October 5th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, October 6th: Raven Haired Girl
Wednesday, October 7th: Novel Escapes
Thursday, October 8th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Friday, October 9th: My Book Retreat
Monday, October 12th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Tuesday, October 13th: Imaginary Reads
Tuesday, October 13th: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, October 14th: Thoughts On This ‘n That
Wednesday, October 14th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Thursday, October 15th: Joyfully Retired