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Inside the Book Launch Party for Author Kirsten Hubbard

March 18, 2011

Last weekend I was thrilled to attend the launch party for a young adult novel that I loved, Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard. One of my favorite San Diego independent bookstores, The Yellow Book Road, hosted the event, which was held at a local library.

Kirsten is a publicist’s dream of an author: charming, funny, savvy about social media, and astonishingly talented. I can’t praise her book enough. It is a sensitive portrayal of two very different teenage girls, smart, thoughtful Grace and fiery but wounded Mandarin. As Grace struggles with her desire to leave her small town and her beauty pageant background, she befriends Mandarin, the wild daughter of the town’s bar owner. The girls live in the Wyoming Badlands, a part of the country I know very little about.

Kirsten’s presentation included a slideshow of photographs she took while in the Badlands area, which really fleshed out the vision I had in my head after finishing the book. She shared with the audience that her inspiration for the book came, in part, from her mother’s childhood growing up in a small Wyoming town, though she was quick to point out that Grace was not based on her mother, herself or her twin sister (the attendees, many family and friends, laughed at this). The audience members asked many insightful questions about the process of writing the book, selling it, and finally moving on to her next project (two more books on their way in the next few years!)

What I loved most about Kirsten’s launch party was that it was so clear how many people have supported her journey to becoming a published author. Her husband’s family decorated the event space with jackalopes, the unofficial mascot of the book, and provided refreshments including a cake screened with the book’s cover image. Her community of young adult writers came wearing sashes and Western apparel, an homage to the book’s setting. And the rest of the crowd was sprinkled with siblings, neighbors and acquaintances. 

Here are a few of the many glowing reviews Like Mandarin has already received. It really is a beautifully written debut, and one that adults will enjoy as well.

“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


“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”



“In a work of realistic young adult fiction Kirsten Hubbard has delivered a stunning debut that addresses many of the tough issues facing today’s teens including peer pressure and the expectations of popularity and conformity”

New York Journal of Books

In addition to her budding career as a novelist, Kirsten is also a travel writer, avid blogger and all-around adventurer. You can find out more about her by visiting her blog or her website. We will be giving away a signed copy of Like Mandarin in a special Twitter giveaway. Please visit us on Twitter for more details!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2011 9:37 am

    I’m in the middle of Like Mandarin right now – and it is beautifully written – the words flow and create powerful imagery. It’s wonderful 🙂

  2. March 18, 2011 12:49 pm

    It’s been lovely to see the support the Elevensies have given Kirsten in the last few weeks. Coming together as debut authors has been beneficial in ways many of us could have never dreamed of.


  1. Six Questions with Author Kirsten Hubbard « Random Acts of Reading

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