Sunday, September 6, 2015

Book Review: "The Art of Crash Landing" by Melissa DeCarlo

Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. Many thanks to HarperCollins Publishers for making it available!

"Most people would probably have a hard time totally f--king up their life in under an hour. But then again, I'm not most people. I'm amazing. I'm like some kind of f--kup savant."

This may be it. This may be the point at which Mattie Wallace hits rock bottom. Fleeing her boyfriend (whom she affectionately refers to as Nick the Asshole), Mattie is broke, pregnant, and unsure of what her next move will be—and she has all of her worldly belongings in six large trash bags. She is worried she's turning into her late mother, an alcoholic who seemed to sabotage her own life at every turn, and Mattie has no end of regrets about their relationship.

When she finds out that she might inherit something from her late grandmother, a woman she never met, she makes the split-second decision to drive more than 800 miles to Gandy, Oklahoma, where her grandmother and mother once lived. She quickly discovers that her mother had a tremendous amount of potential but her life was derailed by several incidents in her teenage years, which led to the disappointments of her adult life. But as Mattie tries to figure out exactly what caused her mother to abandon the possibilities which lay in store for her, she finds a lot more questions, secrets, and more than a few angry people.

Can we overcome our regrets and our mistakes and start a new course for our lives, or are we doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again? Why are we so determined to push those who care about us away, and not tell them the things we should?

From the very first sentences of The Art of Crash Landing I was utterly hooked, and this book didn't let me go until it ended. It's not that there was necessarily anything earth-shattering about the plot, but Melissa DeCarlo did such a great job unfolding the story, and creating so many fascinating characters. This book is just over 400 pages, and I read the entire thing in less than a day—and I didn't sit around all day reading, either! I was just completely drawn in by the plot and just couldn't stop reading, because I really enjoyed Mattie's story, as dysfunctional as it was.

I love books that give you so much more than you expect. For an author writing her debut novel, Melissa DeCarlo has talent in abundance, and knows how to tell a story. The Art of Crash Landing is moving, funny, and compelling. You can't ask for much more than that when you pick up a book.