Mattie Wallace has really screwed up this time. Broke and knocked up, she’s got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags, and nowhere to go. Try as she might, Mattie can no longer deny that she really is turning into her mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn’t make.
When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance left by a grandmother she’s never met, she jumps at this one last chance to turn things around. Leaving the Florida Panhandle, she drives eight hundred miles to her mother’s birthplace—the tiny town of Gandy, Oklahoma. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery—a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town thirty-five years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back.
But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother, and it happened here. The harder Mattie digs for answers, the more obstacles she encounters. Giving up, however, isn’t an option.
Uncovering what started her mother’s downward spiral might be the only way to stop her own.
This is Melissa DeCarlo’s debut novel and I felt her writing was really humorous, packed with subtle jokes and dry humour which I loved.
Narrator Mattie was the main source of amusement, and some of her thoughts and quick-witted comments were very entertaining- though a lot of her decisions were rather questionable! To start with I wasn’t sure whether Mattie was a man or woman (I had purposely not read a lot about the book so as to leave my opinions unformed before I began reading it) because she doesn’t seem typically ‘ladylike’ or feminine, but it becomes apparent that she is female when she reveals that she is pregnant (early on in the novel, I’m not giving a big spoiler away, don’t worry!). She’s a bit of a disaster and quite the wind-up merchant but I found her likable and quite charming in her own way; by the end of the novel I was sad for it to end because I really did want to read more about her!
I really liked that The Art Of Crash Landing had an element of mystery about it; Mattie is trying to find out more about her mother’s early life before she was born and why she left the town she grew up in. I love any novel with a question at its heart and this wove it into the story really well. There was also some romantic interest which was entertaining, but the novel didn’t center around this and it wasn’t done in a cheesy way, which I really liked! In fact the story mixes a lot of different elements together; comedy, romance, drama, relationships, family, mystery, history and more!
Melissa DeCarlo writes really well and creates realistic, convincing characters. Parts of the story are a little slower, particularly the start of the novel – I wasn’t hugely interested in the first few chapters to be honest, but it soon drew me in and started to move along at just the right pace. There was enough development of the characters and storyline throughout without it becoming dry or dull and also without it feeling rushed or unrealistic, and by the time I’d got a third of the way in I was hooked!
I’d definitely recommend this novel for someone wanting a compelling, funny read. Melissa DeCarlo is certainly an author I’d like to read more of!
The Art Of Crash Landing is published in the UK on the 8th September.
** Many thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC of this novel in return for an honest review **
Have you read The Art Of Crash Landing? If so, what did you think?