Customer Reviews for

Land of a Hundred Wonders

Average Rating 4
( 22 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Reviewed by Cat for TeensReadToo.com

Though she survived the wreckage that took her parents lives one rainy summer night, that near-fatal car accident left Gibby McGraw N(ot).Q(uite).R(ight).

While she spends her mornings working at Grandpa Charlie's Top o'the Morning Diner, her afternoons visiting the ...
Though she survived the wreckage that took her parents lives one rainy summer night, that near-fatal car accident left Gibby McGraw N(ot).Q(uite).R(ight).

While she spends her mornings working at Grandpa Charlie's Top o'the Morning Diner, her afternoons visiting the residents of Cray Ridge, Kentucky, running errands while Grandpa fishes, and gathering information to put in the stories she writes for Gibby's Gazette, Gibby also realizes everyone in town thinks she's diminished. Heck, even Sheriff LeRoy Johnson called her "dumber than anthracite" when he thought she was out of hearing range; but Gibby has a plan.

At the top of her list of VERY IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO is to prove she is Quite Right and can take care of herself so Mama can rest in peace and Charlie will get off her back and stop sending her to talk with Reverend Jack every time she says or does something "inappropriate."

And the perfect plan fell into her lap when she found Buster Malloy's murdered body, the man with plans to be the future state governor, washed up on the shores of Browntown. Now all Gibby need do is employ the skills learned from THE IMPORTANCE OF PERCEPTION IN METICULOUS INVESTIGATION by Howard Redmond of New York City, New York, to find Buster's killer and write the article for her paper.

What Gibby didn't count on was all hell breaking loose in the meantime.

I'm a huge fan of novels set in small towns; it's a prime opportunity for authors to utilize the family dynamic on a much larger scale and populate their world with plenty of quirky, compelling characters. Cray Ridge, Kentucky, is lousy with those folks, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Gibby's the protagonist and we experience the novel via her first-person narrative, but all the characters were spectacular. Lesley Kagen had me laughing at Gibby's inappropriate outbursts and downright embarrassing questions until my sides hurt, and she had me stemming the flow of tears at certain points throughout while demonstrating just how much Gibby had lost due to the brain damage.

There's so much more regarding friend and familial connections, secrets and betrayals, but I fear going further into detail will lead to spoilers. All I can say is the roots of the characters' relationships run deep and when that happens, there is a great deal of twisting and rot that must eventually be unraveled.

A second, but equally important aspect in this novel is its social context. Ms. Kagen set LAND OF A HUNDRED WONDERS in the post-Civil Rights Movement south. As anyone who has ever spent time in the United States southern regions, there are places one can visit today in 2009, and still feel as though the events of that era never took place. Ms. Kagen does a superior job portraying the segregation that still existed in small places like Cray Ridge, not to mention the abuse of power employed by white law enforcement, and the simmering tensions between the former and those forced to live in the deteriorating conditions of Browntown.

We also see the toll Vietnam took on American soldiers sent overseas in Gibby's friend Billy Brown Junior. The only son of the town's richest man, he spends the days since his return in the woods, often times believing he's still in the jungles of the Orient, with his own hideout shelters all over town....

Read the full review at www.teensreadtoo.com

posted by TeensReadToo on November 29, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Not what you expect!

The beging starts out pretty slow and its kinda hard to get into it. I'm not sure if I ever really did.

posted by joey85 on February 10, 2009

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  • Posted August 23, 2010

    what a disappointment!

    I loved Whistling in the Dark and thought I hit upon an author I could count on. But, I tried reading this book and it was so boring, seemed to go nowhere, characters I didn't care about, and 60 pages in, I put the book down and knew I wouldn't finish.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2010

    avid book reader

    I borrowed this book from the library and returned it before the due date. I found this book hard to get into and did not finish it. I would not reccommend it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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