Today we are happy to be part of a book tour with a heartwarming story!
Born with a hole in his heart, Jesse Serrano dies at 17, and though his loved ones have always known he would die young, his family and friends are left bereft and confused at how to sort through the grieving process. But Jesse had a plan for his final goodbye: plane tickets and a map to Europe mailed to his cousins, best friend, and girlfriend without much of an explanation as to the trip’s purpose. For his cousins, Cal, Ben, and Trevor, there is the guilt of having been caught up more in the last years of high school than in their cousin’s life, and for his best friend, Matt, and girlfriend Lillian, the trip comes as a shove back into the world after a year of grief. It takes a while for the group to become comfortable with one another, particularly Cal and Lillian. Cal is carrying a notebook titled “Juvenalia” left to her by Jesse, which she refuses to share; Lillian is angry and prideful about sharing the memory of Jesse; and it takes numerous explosive fights for them to break through their protective walls and relate. The group figure out their mission and somewhat resentfully and hopefully trudge their way through Europe on their quest.
Books are a great resource to go places we are most likely not to go. They take us across the world on an adventure with the protagonist. I’m a sucker for travel books. The Land of 10,000 Madonnas is one of those books.
Jesse Serrano dies young from a heart condition and leaves expense paid trips through Europe for his friends. The mystery to why he did this is left in clues of Jesse’s handwritten journal for everyone and they are to take this trip to figure out Jesse’s end goal. But also to help them cope with his death.
I loved the multiple view points and the short flashbacks. I was happy to get into each character’s head. I didn’t really like some of the characters because a few annoyed me. Lillian and Cal seemed so selfish acting like this trip was a burden. I just wanted to slap them. Their friend just died! They seemed to forget it was all for Jesse, who by far was my favorite character. We still get to know him through his journals, which is a great way to access that knowledge for the reader. It was intriguing. I did love the fact we were given a chance to know each character and their connection with Jesse. Each one had a different experience but in the end they were drawn together by their grief.
Hattemer did a wonderful job at inserting the reader into a vivid descriptive trip. There were humorous parts to keep the story lighthearted and emotional parts on loss to connect with the characters.
Should you read it? Yes! A wonderful story of 3 friends dealing with grief that’s both hilarious and heartbreaking.