The Land of 10,000 Madonnas

The Land of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer (Recieved ARC from publishers at ALA Midwinter)

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From the outside, Jesse Serrano seems to appear both happy and healthy. He has great friends, and an even greater family. But appearances aren’t what they seem. Jesse is sick. And no kind of treatment can cure him. He was born with a hole in his heart.

So when he dies, as expected as it is, it’s still shockingly untimely. His friends and family friends and family mourn, grieve, and prepare for a life without him. But what they didn’t prepare for was Jesse’s final act: he’s sending Ben, Trevor, Cal, Lillian, and Matt on a wild goose chase across Europe. Why? To find the one thing, rather person, Jesse wasn’t able to find while he was alive: his mother.

Sent off on a trip of a lifetime, the travel companions are as unsure of their mission as they are of themselves.  But as they search for Jesse’s mother Thea, following a crumbless trail, they soon discover the real reason of why they were sent on this journey: to find themselves in a world without Jesse.

Written by author Kate Hatteman, The Land of 10,000 Madonnas is a realistic read about the bonds of family, and how those bonds can never be broken even by death.

While I enjoyed Hatteman’s writing, and that that, overall, The Land of 10,000 Madonnas was well written, I did have some issues with it. For me, the story being told, not only for multiple perspectives, but from third person simply didn’t work. Because of perspective shift each (and every) chapter, it took a few lines to realize which character was telling his or her part of the story. Regardless of this, by the end all of their stories did come together. In regards of the third person I felt like it didn’t give me a chance to get to know any of the characters.

And speaking of those characters, there wasn’t one out of the five main characters that I loved or even liked, with the exception of Matt who throughout the book felt like the voice of reason. Ultimately each character had a part to play, and because of this their relationship with each other, Jesse excluded, was forced and unauthentic. But what really bothered me was the fact that the two female characters – Cal and Lillian – practically despised each other.  It seemed all their moments together were of them arguing and throwing shade on each other. And it bothered me that they tore each other down, instead of helping build themselves up.

It seems like I didn’t enjoy this book at all. But the truth is there were many enjoyable aspects. For example, I truly loved the setting. Set throughout Europe, Hatteman made me feel as if I were traveling alongside her cast of characters. I got to travel the world while siting in my living room.  Beyond that, I also really enjoyed how Jesse was an intricate part of the story. He wasn’t in the background, he was at the forefront. And she did this by mixing in parts of Jesse’s journal into the text.

At this point, even after reading and reviewing this book, I’m not sure how many stars I would rate this book.  While this book had many ups and downs, maybe more downs than ups for me, that doesn’t mean that you won’t love this book! Read it, and let’s discuss!

(Image from GoodReads)