Friday, September 11, 2015

TLC BOOK TOURS and REVIEW: The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo


From a bright new talent comes this debut novel about a young woman who travels for the first time to her mother’s hometown, and gets sucked into the mystery that changed her family forever

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.

Hilarious, gripping, and unexpectedly wise, The Art of Crash Landing is a poignant novel from an assured new voice.

Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 8th 2015 by Harper Paperbacks
ISBN 0062390546 (ISBN13: 9780062390547) 

About the Author

Melissa DeCarlo was born and raised in Oklahoma City, and has worked as an artist, graphic designer, grant writer, and even (back when computers were the size of refrigerators) a computer programmer. The Art of Crash Landing is her first novel. Melissa now lives in East Texas with her husband and a motley crew of rescue animals. 

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My Thoughts
Twenty-seven minutes is, if anyone ever asks, exactly how long it takes to cram everything I own into six giant trash bags. 
Mattie is a bit of a mess. She just left her abusive musician boyfriend Nick and really has no backup plan. Her alcoholic mother Genie has been dead for years, and she eventually finds herself at her ex-stepfather Queeg's place (the only father she's ever known). While there she learns that her maternal grandmother Tilda (whom she never met) has died, and Tilda's estate attorneys have been attempting to contact Mattie (who has been reliably unavailable). With nothing else going for her and no goals in sight, Mattie hits the road and heads to Oklahoma with visions of inheritance in her eyes.

Mattie's mother was always elusive and mysterious, but while in her mother's childhood hometown, Mattie begins to uncover her mother's past. Old high school classmates of her mother, distant relatives and old beaus all seem reluctant to share information about Genie. Luckily Mattie is able to unearth some clues on her own.
“I don’t know what that means, Matt, but I do know that your mother did her best.”

I consider that for a few seconds. “No. She left her best here,” I say. “We just got what was left.”

He sighs, and then he says, “It was enough.”

“No it wasn’t.”

I really liked Mattie. She's funny, she's smart (although she uses her intelligence to manipulate people), sarcastic and tough. She might be a little much to deal with in real life, but as a character in a book, I really like her! And I liked Queeg (a nickname Mattie gave him, after the character in The Caine Mutiny). He is really understanding and patient, although perhaps a bit of an enabler, but he is good for Mattie (although Mattie refers to him as being the most "uncool" person she knows). He has been the only stable thing in Mattie's life since she was thirteen.
Queeg always said that normal people are just people you don’t know very well…

I also liked a lot of the other characters, but I don't want to get into detail about them and ruin the story for someone else (i.e. old classmate Karleen, paralegal Luke, angst-ridden Tawny. And the Winstons!)

Mattie is fighting the ultimate battle against her self. She is becoming her mother. Will learning about her mother's childhood and what made her the way she was help Mattie to stave off the self-destruction that has always held her back in life?

I would like to thank TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. Check out the website for the full tour schedule:

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

My final word: I enjoyed the writing. It was a playful and fast read with colorful characters. The author does a good job of building the story and providing well-developed characters. It is told first-person, with flashbacks providing insight into Mattie's past. The author succeeds in creating a severely flawed and screwed up character in Mattie, while she is able to keep her likable and sympathetic. The banter is fun, and counter-balanced with some deeply emotional and revealing moments. I really liked this story, and the author's writing style!

Buy Now:
Barnes and Noble

My Rating:

The Cerebral Girl is a forty-something blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through TLC Book Tours and the publisher, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. The book that I received was an uncorrected proof, and quotes could differ from the final release.  


Melissa said...

Hi! Thank you SO MUCH for the great review! (I always loved school, so getting an "A" on my work still feels very sweet!)

nfmgirl said...

:) My pleasure, Melissa! I look forward to reading more from you (and have already recommended this book to my friend, who had a pretty screwed up childhood herself)!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this book! Thanks for being a part of the tour.