Happy Aloha Friday! It has been a long week and I am so happy for the weekend. To help take us there, I have a review the new young adult novel, Mayhem by Estelle Laure and accompanying my review is a Fruity Green Juice Smoothie, inspired by the book.
Back Cover Blurb:
The Lost Boys meets Wilder Girls in this supernatural feminist YA novel.
It's 1987 and unfortunately it's not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy"s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem's own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren't like everyone else.
But when May's stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem's questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good.
But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost.
From the acclaimed author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back, Estelle
Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of
women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.
Wednesday Books (July 14, 2020) 304 pages
When I first signed up to be on the blog tour for this book it was tagged as a mash up between The Lost Boys (one of my 80s movie favorites) and The Craft (another movie I enjoyed) although now the publisher's blurb is saying The Lost Boys and Wilder Girls (on my TBR list) and a feminist YA novel. Since I have not read Wilder Girls I can't comment on that, but definitely the setting is totally The Lost Boys with the California town of Santa Maria in the book modeled on Santa Clarita in the movie and of course Santa Cruz in real life. There are vampires--although we really manly hear mention of them, a few movie lines sprinkled in, and even the vampire-chasing characters The Frog Brothers--who look, dress and act the same as they do in the movie. They don't play a role in the story so I think it is just mainly a homage to the movie and if there are no copyright issues, I have no beef with them being there and like what they add to the setting. The book is set primarily in 1987, and I love the era and having spent a little time as a tween on vacation in Santa Cruz in the earlier 80s, the California beachy boardwalk setting is perfect for the book and its magic and darkness.
There are a lot of potential triggers in the story from domestic abuse, drug use and abuse, sexual assault and crimes against women. The author addresses these triggers in her forward and said she wrote it so girls who feel powerless could imagine being invincible and a bit as a healing salve for her own past. The main character, Mayhem, and her mother Roxie return to Santa Maria from Texas after more than a decade of Roxie running away from the pain and life there after her love and Mayhem's father's tragic death. Mayhem knows little about her family, the only father and grandparents she knew were her stepfather, Lyle, and his family and they aren't good experiences. Lyle abused Roxy, and it isn't until he starts on Mayhem that the two flee back to the Brayburn family farm that Mayhem's aunt runs. There Mayhem meets the three foster children her aunt has taken in and is getting ready to adopt, and she begins to learn the family history from a journal started by her great-grandmother and added to over the years by other Brayburn women. The journal, the odd behaviors of the community toward her family (gift baskets at the front gate in tribute), the constant presence of crows, and other weird things begin to put the puzzle pieces in place for Mayhem to discover she comes of a line of very powerful women with supernatural powers. Mixed in with the family drama, there are missing teenage girls in Santa Maria and it is suspected they are the victims of a serial killer, that Mayhem and her new family try to identify. I don't want to go too much into the details of what happens, as if you are going to read this book, it's best to let the story unfold, which it does quickly, picking up pace and tension as it does.
Overall, Mayhem was a good, dark, nostalgic escape. It's a fast read at just over 300 pages and I would have liked a bit more development for some of the characters and a less abrupt end. There are a couple parts of what happened that I am still unclear about--perhaps left purposefully vague. With the subject matter, I would say it would be better for older teens and young adults rather than younger. If like me you are a Lost Boys fan and love your 80s with a good dose of female empowerment thrown in, you should enjoy it.
Author Notes: Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults,
and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely
around the world.
You can connect with Estelle on Twitter or Instagram.
There was food to be found in Mayhem and it ran the gamut from convenience foods to healthy, natural foods. Mentions included Cheetos, granola, soft-boiled egg, soup, Twinkies, Hostess Cupcakes, cake iced with colored sugar, Nacho Cheese Doritos, Coke, donuts, bulgur wheat and nutritional yeast, coffee, frozen yogurt, little cakes with delicate flower icing, roast and potatoes, lettuce, oranges and baskets of fruit, chocolate-covered almonds, rock candies, vegetables, Rockets and Fudgescicles, hot cocoa, tacos, chimichurri sauce, green juices and fruit, green tomatoes, fresh peaches from the orchard, mint iced tea, plums, ice cream cones, rice and beans, with lime juice, a salad of avocado, lettuce, cucumbers, and pumpkin seeds, cheese plate, jelly beans, and tea.
For my bookish dish, I was going to make rice and beans and the salad with avocados, cucumbers and pumpkin seeds or a vegan version of the Barbacoa tacos mentioned in the book using jackfruit. Alas, I have had a small stomach thing this week and it wasn't interested in having any of those things inside it. Instead, I went to the the chapter in the book where Mayhem comes down to a table full of green juice and fruit and decided to make a green juice smoothie full of fruity goodness.
Smoothie recipes are pretty fluid--you can use what you have on hand or what fruit look like best. If you use frozen fruit and banana with cold juice you don't need ice cubes but if your fruit is fresh, ice cues will help thicken your smoothie.
Fruity Green Juice Smoothie
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Servings)
1 banana, chopped and frozen
1/2 cup frozen peaches
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup frozen mango
1 cup apple juice (if you want less sweetness, use water or unsweetened almond milk)
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lime
1 Tbsp chia seeds, optional
2 cups baby spinach or greens of choice
about 10 leaves fresh mint
Put ingredients into the container of a high-speed blender. Start blending on low speed and increase to high. Blend on high speed for 50-60 seconds until mixture is smooth.If smoothie is too thick, add additional juice or water until desired consistency. Pour into glasses and enjoy!
Notes/Results: This smoothie is on the sweeter side which was perfect for what my stomach said it wanted or any recalcitrant children unwilling to eat their greens. I added the mint, chia seeds and pineapple juice to make it better for my digestion and it helped. I had one portion when I made it and saved the second for the next day. I will still make the tacos and salad at some point, but I will happily make and drink this again.
I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event that was held at Beth Fish Reads, but is now being hosted with Marg at The Adventures of An Intrepid Reader. It's a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. You can see this past week's post here.
Note: A review copy of "Mayhem" was provided to me by the publisher in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.