Before

The winds in Washokey make people go crazy.

At least, that’s what everybody says. Our part of Wyoming is plagued by winds: hot winds, cold winds, dry winds, wildwinds. Wildwinds are the worst. Not only do they torment us from the outside, but they also seem to bluster inside of us: battering around in our lungs, whistling through our capillaries.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that wind blew into the passageways of our brains.

On the afternoon of my last beauty pageant, almost eight years ago, the wildwinds had already begun. That’s what got into me, I like to think: I acted so crazy that day because my head was filled with wind.

But that doesn’t explain why that afternoon sticks in my memory like a tumbleweed blown against a barbed wire fence, no matter how much I would like to forget it. It’s because two of the biggest events in my history came gusting together at once: I saw Mandarin Ramey for the first time. And Momma gave up on me for good.

Excerpt© 2011 Kirsten Hubbard


About the book:

In the small badlands town of Washokey, Wyoming, 14-year-old Grace Carpenter rejects her mother’s pageant ideals and the superficial obsessions of her classmates. She finds beauty in an unexpected, explosive friendship with 17-year-old wild girl Mandarin Ramey — until Mandarin betrays her.

What people are saying:

“A beautifully crafted, bittersweet story about an unlikely friendship that sets two very different people free.”–Melina Marchetta, author of the Printz Award winner Jellicoe Road

“Grace is well drawn and engaging, and her intimate, introspective, frank, and droll narrative zeros in on top teen concerns, from self-esteem and family complexities to peer pressure, loyalty, and fitting in. YAs will appreciate this sensitive portrayal of the ambiguities of relationships and the challenges of growing up.”–Booklist

“Hubbard’s lyrical prose turns the Wyoming landscape into a compelling character in its own right, and readers with their own wanderlust will find in Grace a forceful echo of their restlessness.”–The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Released: March 8, 2011

About the author:

A travel writer and young adult author, Kirsten Hubbard has hiked ancient ruins in Cambodia, dived with wild dolphins in Belize (one totally looked her in the eye), slept in a Slovenian jail cell, and navigated the Wyoming badlands (without a compass) in search of transcendent backdrops for her novels. She lives in San Diego, California. Her YA debut, LIKE MANDARIN, was published by Delacorte/Random House on March 8th, 2011. Her second book, WANDERLOVE, will be published in spring 2012. You can visit her at www.kirstenhubbard.com.