The Land of 10,000 Madonnas reveals an unexpected side to an unfortunate story

A heart-wrenching read that evokes suspense and emotion, The Land of 10,000 Madonnas is more than just a sob story.

Land Of 10,000 Madonnas by Kate Hattemer
352 pages
Kate Hattemer’s second book,  The Land of 10,000 Madonnas is a YA novel published in 2016. She has since written The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy. Although she has only written three books, they are well-written and she takes immense care in her writing.

The Land of 10,000 Madonnas follows protagonist Jesse Serrano–a normal kid in high school. He has close friends, plays sports and lives with his dad who is a history professor. His mom, Thea, left him when he was an infant. Jesse put postcards of Madonnas from all over the world on the walls of his house walls which are meant to resemble his mother. However, a birth defect completely turns Jesse’s world upside-down and sets him apart from the rest. Jesse was born with a hole in his heart that has cut his life tragically short. This gives the story a gloomy atmosphere.

The beginning of the book is slow with not much happening. Jesse talks about school and other characters. He also explains what it’s like living with his dad and the limited time left he has to live. As the book progresses it gets increasingly more interesting. The tone of the book abruptly changes as Jesse’s condition worsens. His three cousins, girlfriend and best friend then travel to Europe on a quest Jesse gives them. They go all around Europe with this one specific goal in mind, and that is find Jesse’s mother.

Despite a slow start, the whole book is suspenseful from the first page to the last. The excellent design of the characters, as well as the way she adds them in the story compliment the book. Kate Hattemer  gives in-depth detail of what the characters do and how they act in the story.  The story, although well written, falls short in some portions. When Jesse’s friends go to places in the book like Germany and Rome, a better job could have been done explaining both the ancient and modern monuments and famous structures that they go to. More information and history about these places would help to bring the cities more vividly to life for the reader. Also, the book in many portions slows down drastically, which discouraged me from continuing reading at times. Even with these slow portions of the book, there were many parts that were suspenseful, exciting and action packed. The book is like a wave, it is low sometimes but then it crests and crashes with a great deal of action.

The Land Of 10,000 Madonnas teaches you to truly appreciate life whatever the circumstances may be. Jesse had a fatal disability, but he didn’t give up and waste it, he went out and lived life to the fullest like a regular child.

Overall, the book is an excellent read. It is well written, with most portions being interesting and engaging. Some portions may fall short, as they are boring and choppy, but don’t be fooled: even with its downsides, this is an exceptional book and is a must read for any readers who are fond of heart-wrenching stories.

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