The Art of Crash Landing

The Art of Crash Landing

by Melissa DeCarlo

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From a bright new talent comes this debut novel about a young woman who travels for the first time to her mother’s hometown, and gets sucked into the mystery that changed her family forever

Mattie Wallace has really screwed up this time. Broke and knocked up, she’s got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags, and nowhere to go. Try as she might, Mattie can no longer deny that she really is turning into her mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn’t make.

When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance left by a grandmother she’s never met, she jumps at this one last chance to turn things around. Leaving the Florida Panhandle, she drives eight hundred miles to her mother’s birthplace—the tiny town of Gandy, Oklahoma. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery—a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town thirty-five years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back. But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother, and it happened here. The harder Mattie digs for answers, the more obstacles she encounters. Giving up, however, isn’t an option. Uncovering what started her mother’s downward spiral might be the only way to stop her own.

Hilarious, gripping, and unexpectedly wise, The Art of Crash Landing is a poignant novel from an assured new voice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062390554
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/08/2015
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 155,693
File size: 798 KB

About the Author

Melissa DeCarlo was born and raised in Oklahoma City, and has worked as an artist, graphic designer, grant writer, and even (back when computers were the size of refrigerators) a computer programmer. The Art of Crash Landing is her first novel. Melissa now lives in East Texas with her husband and a motley crew of rescue animals.

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The Art of Crash Landing 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I savored every word.. Enjoyed every moment. When it ended I was sad there was not more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I almost never write reviews, but this novel is filled with so much emotion and written with intelligence, that this book should be shared. Mattie and most of the characters are quirky, yet the humor is balanced with her wise insights into humor nature. I know it is a clique to say that I was so sorry to see this story end. But it is the truth . I will be reading this again very soon, and recommending it to everyone. I cannot wait for her next novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Now, the book wasn't perfect, but it was still great (hence the five stars), It was a funny book with a lovable main character. Would definitely recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lovely. One of the best books I've read in a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good read by an author who knows how to weave a tale! Very entertaining! Can hardly wait for the next book. I think a sequel would be interesting; I have a lot of "what happened?" Or just curiosity. - Shirley Staats
Beverly_D More than 1 year ago
4.5 Stars. Mattie was a hard character to like, at first, though it was easy to figure out where the title came from, she was clearly someone who crash-landed over and over again. Disclaimer: I'm acquainted with the author via social media. Mattie, the heroine, is much adrift in the world, in large part, because of her erratic if often charismatic late mother. I found her annoying, pathetic, and couldn't take my eyes off her. There are secrets she is investigating, about her dead mother's past life. Will they help her clarify issues ongoing with her own life? Will they be ultimately meaningless? Does Mattie turn her life around because of what she learns about her mother's girlhood - or in spite of it? Or does she turn her life around at all? Lots of interesting questions raised in this book, and they are not ALL answered. Riveted from the beginning pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jt was sad to me when the book was finished. I'm now trying to find aimilar novel in the aame style.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TulaneGirl More than 1 year ago
Mattie never came across a bad decision she didn't make. Her life is in shambles and she's determined to make it worse. Destitute (not just broke), pregnant, and defiant, she is a challenging character that is hard to root for. Still, the author tries her best to make us care for her. The novel starts off with Mattie finding out she's pregnant. She process this information and thinks the best way to handle the situation is to break it off with her boyfriend, keep the pregnancy from him, and steal his most prized possession to boot. It's okay though because her boyfriend is scum and it's fine to steal if you're stealing from scum. She heads to her ex-step-father's place to collect herself. There, she finds out her maternal grandmother has passed on and possibly left her a legacy. She decides to go collect. All Mattie wants to do is collect her money and bail. Instead, she harasses a parapalegic, tries to seduce an Episcopalian priest, flakes on feisty teenager (did I mention Mattie is 30), and starts a war with her new neighbor. As she embarks on her wave of destruction and self-destruction, she slowly uncovers the mystery of her mom. She learns that her mom wasn't always the loser drunk she knew her to be. At one time, her mom was a musical prodigy with a scholarship to a fancy school on the East Coast. Mattie becomes determined to find out what happened to her mom to make her change course and ruin both their lives. The secret is a big one that lends credibility to why Mattie's mom would embark on a path of self-destruction. In the end, Mattie is a shallow, narcissistic, selfish, rude, self-centered woman-child who doesn't leave much room for sympathy. And yet, she managed to charm me - or better yet - her mom did. And so, I stuck around to find out the answer to the mystery. And that, is the sign of a good mystery novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alexis-Elise More than 1 year ago
If you’re looking for a book that is as real as it gets, you will not be disappointed. For a debut novel, Melissa DeCarlo’s "The Art of Crash Landing" is compelling, hilarious, and unpredictable. Matilda (Mattie) Wallace is a 30 year-old train-wreck: she is lost, pregnant, and seemingly mid-life crisis material. After the death of a grandmother she barely knows, she finds herself fleeing the crappy life she knows in Pensacola, Florida and driving to Oklahoma to meet with lawyers she has been avoiding. Once there, she inherits a house, bills, two dogs, and a chance to uncover the mysteries of her past. Secrets are as present as surprises, and Mattie’s humorous, conversational narrative will keep you turning every page. When things could not get any worse, they do. When things get fiery and exciting, they remain there. Mattie undergoes her own investigation to learn the details of her deceased mother and grandparents, coming into contact with friends, and enemies, of her family. Walking down a path purposefully covered, Mattie overcomes financial instability, undeniable odds, pain, and loss, coming to find herself, and that is the most satisfying aspect of all.
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
The Art of Crash Landing is a standalone, women's fiction novel written by Melissa DeCarlo. Let me tell you point blank: I hated the main character Mattie Wallace. She has a family history of crash landing big time and she succeeds in continuing the cycle. Mattie is your stereotypical moocher - a selfish, white-trash loser. Is that harsh? Yes. You know why? Because the characteristics we tend to hate in others are usually some of the same one's we are in denial about within ourselves. Is this always the case? No, but witnessing Ms. DeCarlo unapologetically develop such a flawed character tested me to no end. It tested my patience for Mattie and ultimately tested my patience for myself because like the quote below suggests - being human equals being a mistake-maker...even if some of us seem to repeat our mistakes more often than others. My favorite quote: "My mother loved me, and I loved her, and she loved her mother, who loved her in return, and in the end we all f*cked everything up. And it wasn’t because we’re bad people. We did it because we’re only people, and sometimes that’s what people do."
Liz_Blackmer More than 1 year ago
The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo is a fantastic book that is definitely worth reading. It blends humor and seriousness, past and present, cringes and cheers without skipping a beat or stumbling over itself. At the very beginning, it is very clear that Mattie Wallace’s life is falling apart. She has an unwanted baby growing in her belly, has no money, and is pretty much living out of her dead mother’s car after running away from her boyfriend. When she hears of her grandmother’s death and inheritance, Mattie travels to Gandy, Oklahoma to hopefully improve her life. What she comes to instead is confusion. She suddenly realizes that she really did not know her mother. People help her, but whenever she brings up her mother, they refuse to answer her questions. She is determined to find answers, and she does whatever she can in order to get them. This story definitely makes it clear what kind of person Mattie is. On the rare occasion that something good comes into her life, she will find a way to ruin it. It just seems like a fact of life for her. I admit I wanted to hate her, but over time, I grew to love her and cheer her on. Any person who has ever made a terrible mistake in their life can connect with her. With Mattie being such a well-created character, not only are her problems and struggles clear, but her change in character is very evident as well. Readers will find themselves not only loving her, but also loving those who help her. The Art of Crash Landing does an amazing job of showing how finding the truth about her mother’s past helps Mattie find her way. The story has chapters dedicated to Mattie’s past with her mother. These chapters focus on their relationship and how it changed towards the end of her mother’s life. A big issue with some books is that switching back and forth between the past and the present feels forced, but this story does not have that problem. It works. It helped me become invested in the story because it all felt so real. I would highly suggest this book to anyone who feels as if they are losing control of their life. This story will make them laugh, cry, cheer, and quite possibly find hope.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Mattie Wallace from page one is a disaster, but she knows it! She is pregnant and not talking to the father of the child and not even sure if she wants to remain pregnant and she is dealing with the recent death of her grandmother and the diminishing health of her ex step father who is a major figure in her life. She returns to her deceased mother's childhood home and ends up finding a lot about both her mother and grandmother after they are both gone. This book was all about Mattie. Mattie had a rough childhood and unlike some people she didn't try to escape her childhood she became her mother and was still in a mess when she ends up finding out real secrets about her mother before she was a mother. I had a hard time understanding how Mattie didn't know about her mother's upbringing - I know that I have asked my mom many times of stories from her childhood and would have been surprised not to hear and know those stories now.
Holly More than 1 year ago
The Art Of Crash Landing is Mattie's story of how running back to her mother's hometown will change the course of her life. Mattie is living in Florida, broke, pregnant and turning into her mother when a phone call about a inheritance in Oklahoma might be the thing that will change things. As she gets to Oklahoma and discovers there is a huge secret about her mother, Mattie uncovers things that some people would like to stay in the past. As everything comes out, Mattie finally knows the meaning of true worth and that she can be better than her mother in making the right choice. I loved this book and thought it was interesting how it was broke up into days and you realize that she wasn't into Oklahoma for very long before the secret is reveled. Books like this deserved to be reread to find stuff that you missed the first time around. I thought Melissa did excellent for her debut novel and I can't wait to see what is to come from her!! Thank You to Melissa DeCarlo for writing a heartfelt debut novel that is surely to be a total success! I received this book from the Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for a honest review.
bookchickdi More than 1 year ago
With so much out there competing for our ever-dwindling attention span, a great first sentence is the key to grabbing the reader's eye. Melissa DeCarlo's debut novel The Art of Crash Landing has a doozy: "Twenty-seven minutes is, if anyone ever asks, exactly how long it takes to cram everything I own into six giant trash bags." I ask you, how can you not want to read the rest of this book? Mattie Wallace is thirty years old, pregnant, underemployed, drinks too much and now she is moving out of her soon-to-ex-boyfriend's home. She goes to her deceased mother's former boyfriend, a man she calls Queeg, for help. I loved the relationship between Queeg and Mattie. Mattie had a tough childhood, her mother was an alcoholic who moved around a lot and dated many men. They moved in with Queeg and although Mattie had her issues with him, he cares a great deal for her and she loves him too. He is the only solid thing in her life. Mattie discovers that her mother's mother has died and with nowhere else to go, Mattie takes off for Grandy, Oklahoma, where her mother grew up. Her grandmother has just passed away, and Mattie received a letter from a lawyer stating that she may have an inheritance. The tiny town of Grandy has an entire cast of interesting people, and the small-town feel shines through in this story. Mattie's car breaks down and she manages to find JJ, the town's mechanic who tells her it's going to be awhile and expensive to fix the car. He and Mattie clash right away. Next up is a visit to the lawyer's office where she meets Luke, a paralegal, who tells Mattie that settling the estate may take awhile. While she waits, she stays in her grandmother's home. She has no cash and no job, so Luke takes pity on her and convinces his aunt, the town librarian, to give Mattie a job. Mattie wants to find out why her mother just up and left her hometown when she was seventeen and never looked back. The woman people in town describe as her mother doesn't sound like the alcoholic, broken-down mother she knew. What happened in her past to make her this way? The Art of Crash Landing has terrific characters in a wonderfully real setting, DeCarlo has some great lines in the book, like Mattie saying that "Sometimes my entire life has felt like one long exercise in lowering expectations." And Luke tells her that "needing to change your life isn't enough. You have to want it too." Any book partially set in a library is sure to make me smile, and I laughed as Mattie goes to work on her first day "managing to achieve a reasonably arresting librarian--on-the-skids look" in her grandma's borrowed clothes. And her description of the group of middle-aged men who hang out at the library as "Grandy's intelligentsia" had me in stitches. The Art of Crash Landing reminded me of Joshilyn Jackson's Someone Else's Love Story (they even have similar covers) in its tone, humor and sassy protagonist. I highly recommend The Art of Crash Landing and I'd love to return to Grandy in the future to see how Mattie and company is doing. (Sequel please!)
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
Mattie is a bit of a mess. She just left her abusive musician boyfriend Nick and really has no backup plan. Her alcoholic mother Genie has been dead for years, and she eventually finds herself at her ex-stepfather Queeg's place (the only father she's ever known). While there she learns that her maternal grandmother Tilda (whom she never met) has died, and Tilda's estate attorneys have been attempting to contact Mattie (who has been reliably unavailable). With nothing else going for her and no goals in sight, Mattie hits the road and heads to Oklahoma with visions of inheritance in her eyes. Mattie's mother was always elusive and mysterious, but while in her mother's childhood hometown, Mattie begins to uncover her mother's past. Old high school classmates of her mother, distant relatives and old beaus all seem reluctant to share information about Genie. Luckily Mattie is able to unearth some clues on her own. I really liked Mattie. She's funny, she's smart (although she uses her intelligence to manipulate people), sarcastic and tough. She might be a little much to deal with in real life, but as a character in a book, I really like her! And I liked Queeg (a nickname Mattie gave him, after the character in The Caine Mutiny). He is really understanding and patient, although perhaps a bit of an enabler, but he is good for Mattie (although Mattie refers to him as being the most "uncool" person she knows). He has been the only stable thing in Mattie's life since she was thirteen. I also liked a lot of the other characters, but I don't want to get into detail about them and ruin the story for someone else (i.e. old classmate Karleen, paralegal Luke, angst-ridden Tawny. And the Winstons!) Mattie is fighting the ultimate battle against her self. She is becoming her mother. Will learning about her mother's childhood and what made her the way she was help Mattie to stave off the self-destruction that has always held her back in life? My final word: I enjoyed the writing. It was a playful and fast read with colorful characters. The author does a good job of building the story and providing well-developed characters. It is told first-person, with flashbacks providing insight into Mattie's past. The author succeeds in creating a severely flawed and screwed up character in Mattie, while she is able to keep her likable and sympathetic. The banter is fun, and counter-balanced with some deeply emotional and revealing moments. I really liked this story, and the author's writing style!
Honolulubelle More than 1 year ago
Favorite Quotes: “Queeg has a simple classification system when it comes to the men I date. They’re all idiots. I like to think it has something to do with them not being good enough for me, but I suspect it has more to do with them being stupid enough to date me.” “One is a little larger than the other, but overall the Winstons look alike – tan fur, short legs, stubby bodies, bat like ears. They snort and trot around like little pigs, and already there has been significant fartage… JJ informed me, when he dropped them off, that they were French bulldogs, which has led me to reassess my opinion of the French. They may know a lot about making wine and fries, but they don’t know jacques-merde about making dogs.” “Although my mother had a long track record as a serial dater-of-losers, I really think she tried to avoid the dangerous ones. She wasn’t always successful. She shielded me from as much of the actual violence as she could, but it was harder to hide the results. You win some, you lose some, she’d say as she iced a twisted wrist, or blotted blood from a split lip. Love was a game for my mother. Sometimes it was a contact sport.” “Queeg always said that normal people are just people you don’t know very well, and as far as I can tell, he was right on the money with that one.” My Review: I knew I was in for a ride when the first paragraph already had me smirking and barking a laugh. And then it was on! I am astounded to learn this highly amusing and stunningly well-written story was penned by a first time author. The narrative is well-paced, the story is artfully crafted, and the writing is simply stellar! But I seriously didn’t know if I was going to be able to care for the main character of Mattie, as she is immature, irresponsible, and selfishly cruel. She is also 30 years old, broke, homeless, unemployed, and knocked-up by her latest loser ex… yikes. Not a likely heroine. I found her to be grossly undependable, and just an awful and lackluster human being as well as a major disappointment to those few who tried to help or be nice to her. She took advantage of others and generally made herself scarce or took the easy way out when others wanted to rely on her. While reading the often cringe-worthy recollections of her life with her mother and her current concerns and behaviors, I frequently laughed aloud to the point of cackling. Her irreverent and cheeky accounting of her life as well as her acerbic observations of others is highly entertaining and totally engrossing. The conversation she had with a swearing seven-year old mortician’s daughter had me howling, and still brings up a smirk and a chuckle even now. And just as quickly, she has squeezed my cold heart to the point of blurred vision and a tight chest, during her brutally painful reflections of her less than stellar behaviors toward her alcoholic mother and her kind and long-suffering step-father in their times of need. Nearing the conclusion, as Mattie had uncovered and solved a puzzling mystery about her mother and family, and having achieved some inner peace – she turned a significant corner. The emotional impact of this brought me to my knees and was deeply felt. I found myself so moved that I had to stop and fight back actual sobs to continue reading. Regardless of whether she is a new author or a seasoned pro – Ms. DeCarlo is a talented wordsmith and has mad skills. I hope to see much more from her in the future.
MikiHope More than 1 year ago
What an interesting novel about one woman's search for her roots. Of course she herself is always choosing wrong but is an optimist at heart and just keeps moving along. She harbors both love, resentment and guilt about her mother especially since she has died. and seems to always be searching-for what she does not know. Her step father is the only one who she can relate to a bit anyway. No one seems to know anything about her Mom--until her grandmother leaves her the house. Using stealth and subterfuge she slowly uncovers what her mother was really like and discovers things about herself that she never imagined possible. There is a lot of laughter to be found within the pages of this book as well as tears. It was well worth the read in my opinion!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good little read.