Wednesday, December 2, 2015

2016 Most Anticipated - The Land of 10,000 Madonnas

The next book that made my 2016 Most Anticipated list is one that features a backpacking trip around Europe and also happens to be friendship focused. It is basically everything I love in a book.

This Goodreads synopsis makes it almost impossible to not want to read it immediately, and it seems poised to ignite the best kind of wanderlust in it's readers.
Five teens backpack through Europe to fulfill the mysterious dying wish of their friend in this heartwarming novel from the author of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy.

Jesse lives with his history professor dad in a house covered with postcards of images of the Madonna from all over the world. They’re gotten used to this life: two motherless dudes living among thousands of Madonnas. But Jesse has a heart condition that will ultimately cut his life tragically short. Before he dies, he arranges a mysterious trip to Europe for his three cousins, his best friend, and his girlfriend to take after he passes away. It’s a trip that will forever change the lives of these young teens and one that will help them come to terms with Jesse’s death.

With vivid writing, poignant themes, and abundant doses of humor throughout, Kate Hattemer’s second novel is a satisfying journey about looking for someone else’s answers only to find yourself. 
I cannot wait to see what cities in Europe this trip takes the characters to, and the significance of the places chosen to what Jesse wanted to accomplish in planning the trip.

Kate graciously answered a few questions about her book, designed some ice cream and talked about her own dream Europe vacation.

1. Describe The Land of Ten Thousand Madonnas using only three words.

Three! Three! Every interview I do, it’s fewer words!
My attempt: art-soaked travelogue Bildungsroman.

2. If someone were to make a signature ice cream in honour of your book, what might be included?

It’d be German chocolate chunks in coffee-flavored gelato. Or else it’d be a frozen version of the ham-sandwich-and-banana smoothie that one of my characters finds himself eating at a particularly low point in the trip. Your choice.

3. Let us in on one secret about one of your characters, or the world they inhabit.

Here’s one secret about something that happened when I was writing. During a revision, I was euphorically in love, and I wrote myself and my then-partner into the background of a scene: one of my characters notices a girl running into someone’s arms at the airport. Well, one nasty breakup later, I left in myself but changed the other person’s details to the absolute opposite of what they really were. Sweet revenge, right? Right.

4. Your novel revolves around an epic backpacking trip around Europe. What three countries would be a must on your dream backpacking trip in Europe?

I’m a Latin teacher, so Italy is dear to me – but I think that if I were a planning a trip right now, I’d go north. Scandinavia seems like such an orderly, sensible, ruddy-cheeked place. I’d hike in Norway, eat pastries in Denmark, and then hit up Sweden to use all the words I’ve learned to Ikea. (“Hello! Um… table? Meatballs!”)

5. Did you research the novel by taking the trip your characters take?

I did! I hadn’t decided to set a novel in Europe until I got home, but I was fortunate enough to spend about six weeks abroad during the summer of 2012, when I had a friend working in Germany and a few more friends interested in traveling in Italy. It was an amazing trip. I saw a massive amount of art, went on some jaw-dropping, thigh-quivering hikes, and ate my weight in gelato.

6. If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want to travel?

How about fin de si├Ęcle Paris? So much was changing about the Western world, then and there; modernity was opening before their eyes. It’d be fascinating to be a witness to that.

7. What 2016 release are you most anticipating?

How about two?

One I’ve already read: Emery Lord’s When We Collided. This book, guys, is stunning. It’s everything you’ve come to know and love from Emery (the friendships, the romance, the beautiful sentences), but it’s also a nuanced look at mental illness. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
And one I haven’t read: Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Sittenfeld nails issues of class like no one else, which makes her the perfect candidate to reimagine Jane Austen. Plus, it’s set in my hometown, Cincinnati!

8. If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of The Land of Ten Thousand Madonnas?

It’s not spoilery at all because it’s only two words: “My dad!”
But it’s very thematic. I promise.

This interview makes me want to read the novel even more, and the second ice cream choice is certainly interesting.

The Land of 10,000 Madonnas releases April 19, 2016 and can be pre-ordered right now from any retailer.

You can also follow Kate on Twitter, visit her official website, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to find out the next book that made this year's list!

Do you love travel inspired books? Where would you want to visit in Europe? Let me know in the comments.

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