Review: The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo


Title: The Art of Crash Landing

Author: Melissa DeCarlo

Published: HarperCollins September 2015

Read Excerpt

Status: Read from September 10 to 12, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

“When you’re ass deep in lemons, you start looking for a shovel, not a pitcher and a cup of sugar.”

Thirty year old Mattie Wallace is homeless, jobless and pregnant, so an inheritance from the grandmother she never met is an unexpected life line. With her worldly belongings crammed into six plastic trash bags, Mattie drives from the Florida panhandle where she grew up with her alcoholic single mother, to small town Gandy, Oklahoma. Stranded in town when her 1978 Chevy Malibu gives out, Mattie settles into her grandmothers house while waiting for probate to clear, and curious, begins to ask questions about her mother the locals are reluctant to answer. Determined to learn why her mother fled her comfortable life, Mattie sets out to solve the mystery of her mother’s past, and perhaps forge a new path for herself.

The Art of Crash Landing by debut author Melissa DeCarlo is a hilarious, audacious and surprisingly poignant story about loss, regret, secrets and forgiveness.

“I have ninja skills when it comes to screwing things up. It’s like a superpower only lamer.”

Mattie is a bold character; snarky, foul mouthed and irresponsible, her former stepfather, whom she affectionately calls Queeg (as in Captain Queeg from The Caine Mutiny), compares her to a natural disaster. She has a history of dating deadbeats, drinking too much, and doing the wrong thing. Damaged by her difficult childhood, Mattie knows she is a mess, but feels destined to repeat her mother’s mistakes. I loved her irreverent attitude, and snarky wit, she is smarter than she gives herself credit for, and I really enjoyed the growth of character over the course of the novel. Solving the mystery of her mothers childhood is what lets Mattie reconcile with her past and begin to change the course of her future.

“I don’t know what she’s thinking, but I’m thinking about how fluid the border is between crazy and interesting, and hard it is to decide who belongs where.”

Mattie is both helped, and hindered, by a cast of several quirky characters. Queeg, Mattie’s stepfather who remains in Florida, is the most endearing. Then there is Luke, the paraplegic lawyer; Tawny, the teenage wannabe bad ass; Mattie’s mothers former best friend Karleen, librarian ‘Aunt’ Fritter, JJ and the doggie Winstons.

“We are all more than the worst thing we have done”

I laughed often, entertained by the witty banter, eccentric characters and occasionally absurd situations in The Art of Crash Landing, but I was also intrigued by the mystery surrounding Mattie’s mother’s past, and touched by Mattie’s struggle to escape her mother’s shadow.

“Sometimes well begun never has a chance to finish, and every once in a while, a bad beginning turns out okay.”

DeCarlo’s style is similar to that of Cathy Lamb, an author I adore, and I’m looking forward to more from her. The Art of Crash Landing is a great read I’m happy to recommend.

Available to purchase via

HarperCollins I Amazon US I Book Depository I Indie Bound

Via Booko


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Teddyree
    Sep 14, 2015 @ 20:42:13

    Now this sounds like my type of read, eccentric characters, snarky wit and character growth. Thanks for the recommendation Shelleyrae, it’s going on my list



  2. Melissa DeCarlo
    Sep 14, 2015 @ 21:48:10

    Thank you SO much for the wonderful review! 🙂



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