The art of crash landing A novel

Melissa DeCarlo

Book - 2015

"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 choi...ce 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"--

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Subjects
Genres
Mystery fiction
Published
New York : Harper [2015]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
405 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN
9780062390547
0062390546
Main Author
Melissa DeCarlo (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Thirty-year-old Mattie Wallace is a self-described "ninja when it comes to screwing things up." Daughter of a single mother who died five years earlier, she's close only to her former stepfather, a man she calls Queeg. Broke and pregnant, she storms out on her latest boyfriend in the Florida panhandle and takes off for small-town Oklahoma, where her maternal grandmother recently died. But the transmission in her 1978 Chevy Malibu dies, and her grandmother's estate is not readily available. Fortunately, the kindness of strangers, most of whom knew her mother, kicks in, giving Mattie the opportunity to uncover secrets, answer family questions, and ferret out her tangled ancestry. First novelist DeCarlo deftly weaves in flashbacks about Mattie's childhood and creates a cast of wonderfully full-blooded, fallible characters, from kind and ailing Queeg to Karleen, Mattie's mother's closest childhood friend, to potty-mouthed Goth teenager Tawny, the "summer project" of a no-nonsense librarian. Best of all is Mattie herself, who has cultivated a measure of humanity in addition to impressive survival skills and whose briskly told story is instantly involving. An impressive debut. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Mattie Wallace didn't mean to end up like her mother, but at 30 she's pregnant, broke, and on the run. While crashing at her stepfather's trailer, she receives a phone call from a law office in her (dead) mother's hometown of Gandy, OK. She barely makes it to town before her beat-up old car breaks down. While it's in the shop, Mattie speaks with Luke Lambert, the law firm's paralegal, and learns that she has inherited a house, money, and two dogs from her grandmother, whom she never met. The funds aren't available for three months, so she takes that time to learn who her grandmother was and what caused her mother to leave town when she was a teenager. VERDICT DeCarlo bursts on the scene with a fascinating, mysterious novel. The pacing is excellent and the prose fluid as the story unfolds in a combination of flashbacks and present-day scenes. This debut is thick with secrets; it will cause readers to question everyone and everything. The author does an outstanding job combining suspense with heartache, adding a dash of romance and, at the end, hope.—Erin Holt, Williamson Cty. P.L., Franklin, TN [Page 90]. (c) Copyright 2015 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Decarlo's excellent debut chronicles what happens when 30-year-old Mattie Wallace finds herself unearthing family secrets in her mother's hometown. Mattie remembers her deceased mother, Genie, as a broken alcoholic who dated a string of losers—save for Mattie's erstwhile stepfather, Queeg, with whom she still has a relationship. After being identified as the only surviving heir to her estranged grandmother's house, Mattie spends all her money and ventures to the small town of Gandy, Okla. Her deadbeat boyfriend, Nick, who keeps calling, doesn't know that Mattie is pregnant with his child. DeCarlo manages to make her heroine endearing despite her many flaws: she creates clever private jokes with the reader and slips in the occasional heartbreaking memory between brash shows of pushiness. Luke, a kindly paralegal, allows Mattie to stay at her grandmother's property while the legal kinks get worked out, and Mattie takes a job at the library. People in town recall Genie as a vibrant blonde who had a music scholarship—an image Mattie has trouble reconciling with the bitter redhead who raised her. With a little nosing around, Mattie manages to get to the bottom of why her mother suddenly left town and became who she was. DeCarlo's writing bristles with Mattie's vibrant personality. The book's final pages feel somewhat rushed and condensed after the long, leisurely story that unfolds earlier, but this doesn't detract from what is otherwise a triumphant first novel. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2015 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"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. WhenMattie 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"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A poignant, darkly funny debut novel about a young woman who travels--penniless, pregnant, and homeless--to her deceased mother's small southern hometown, and becomes embroiled in a local mystery: what forced her mother to flee that town thirty-five years previously?"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Learning of a possible inheritance, Mattie travels to her mother's birthplace, discovering that she wasnt always the damaged woman Mattie knew, which prompts her to try to find out what forced her mother to flee the town thirty-five years ago.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Chasing a possible inheritance from her grandmother, Mattie Wallace, homeless and pregnant, travels to her mother's hometown in Oklahoma, where she tries to reconcile the town's memory of her mother with the broken alcoholic she became and stop her own downward spiral. Original. 75,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

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 foreverMattie 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.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

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 foreverMattie 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.