The Land of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer

10000 madonnasSynopsis: 

Five teens backpack through Europe to fulfill the mysterious dying wish of their friend in this heartwarming novel from the author of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy.

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.

With vivid writing, poignant themes, and abundant doses of humor throughout, Kate Hattemer’s second novel is a satisfying journey about looking for someone else’s answers only to find yourself.

If I thought I loved Kate Hattemer already, after reading The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy, I had no idea how deep I was about to fall in love when I picked up The Land of 10,000 Madonnas. This book is a tour-de-force. It’s funny – nay, hilarious; it’s interesting – nay, fascinating; and it’s touching – nay, poignant.

This is one of those books that you NEED to go out and pre-order RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND or you will most certainly live to regret it. If you want a book you can immerse yourself in without a second thought, this is the book for you.

I know that I’m gushing right now, but I can’t help it – that’s how much I adored this book. It’s silly and satisfying and heart-wrenching and life-affirming all at once. Hattemer is absolutely incredible, and this book has it all – backpacking through Europe, a posthumous collection of witty and poignant essays to decipher (called “The Juvenalia”), and a cast of quirky characters who are flawed and fragile, while also being strong and hopeful and fun.

The premise of this book is wonderful – Jesse, the man character, is dead from page one, but he’s left behind a surprise for his best friend, his girlfriend, and his three cousins – an all-expenses paid trip to Europe (paid for out of his college fund). Some of them are keen to take the trip and some are reluctant, but they all have one thing in common – they’re all learning how to process the death of their loved one, and they’re not coping very well. Throughout the book you follow them on their quest, discovering more about Jesse and their relationships with him, as well as how they all choose to deal with existing in a world that no longer includes him. Their stories intertwine through him, as you watch him bring them together from beyond the pale, helping them to find strength in one another’s stories and realize how to move forward through the darkness.

It’s just the right amount of quirky; full of Kate Hattemer’s signature charm and wit, and it’ll leave you teary-eyed and grinning from ear to ear.

Rating: 5/5 stars

Are you guys planning to read The Land of 10,000 Madonnas?? What’s one YA contemporary coming out this year that you CAN’T WAIT to read??

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