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Spill The Mezcal, Take That Coin

Samantha Mabry’s All the Wind in the World has an old west feel in an apocalyptic setting, with a little magic thrown in for even more atmosphere.

Spill The Mezcal, Take That Coin

BOOK REPORT for All the Wind in the World by Samantha Mabry

Cover Story: Pretty as a Picture
BFF Charm: Maybe
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: Back to the Future
Bonus Factor: Traveling Show
Anti-Bonus Factor: Betrayal
Relationship Status: Attempting a Friendship

Cover Story: Pretty as a Picture

I don’t think this is a sky that could happen naturally in the real world, but it sure is pretty. I would Instagram that shizz SO fast.

The Deal:

Sarah Jacqueline Crow—Sarah Jac for short—and her “cousin” James Holt are jimadors, migrant farmers who farm the maguey (agave) fields that have taken over much of the southwestern United States. They work where they can find it, and keep their true relationship a secret from their fellow farmers to keep themselves safe. They have grand dreams of saving enough money to buy a small plot of land in the northeast, where they’ll work with horses and live happily ever after.

But when an accident causes them to go on the run, they find themselves at The Real Marvelous, a farm in Valentine, Texas, that’s long rumored to be cursed. Neither Sarah Jac nor James buy into the rumors, but when all their plans begin to go awry, they realize there might be something to them after all.

BFF Charm: Maybe

Sarah Jac’s a tough nut to crack. She’s had a rough life, and she’s been forced to make tough decisions. And to keep her heart safe, she’s closed it off to anyone but James, and even then the two have to pretend to be family to avoid abuse at the hands of others. I’d likely try to be her friend if we met up in the farmers’ camps, but I doubt she’d reciprocate the effort.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Sarah Jac and James found each other before their time as farmers, and immediately hit it off. However, I struggled to see any real chemistry between the two, especially because they spent much of the novel pretending to be related and therefore completely uninterested in each other in a romantic way. The few scenes in which they’re together are often hurried, and although they’re sometimes sweet, there’s little true swoon.

Talky Talk: Back to the Future

Going into All the WInd in the World, I thought it was going to be a historical fiction novel. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it’s actually set in a near future in which the Earth’s weather has changed for the worse. Practically the entire southwest has become near-barren desert in which few things grow, aside from maguey, a type of agave plant from which mescal and tequila can be made. The world is an even harsher place for those not born into wealth or power. Mabry doesn’t go into detail about what happened to cause the world to be this way, but it certainly is a neat spin on a story that would fit right in to the Dust Bowl era of history.

All the WInd in the World also features magical realism elements, but they took a backseat to Sarah Jac’s very real struggles, and it’s never quite clear if there was anything actually magical happening, or if it was all coincidence. There’s a spiritual undercurrent to the novel, however, even though the characters don’t believe in any of the mystical stuff.

Bonus Factor: Traveling Show

A caravan of performers visits the Real Marvelous at one point in the story, and although it’s a minor plot point that doesn’t have much to do with the main storyline, it was a fun diversion to both the characters and me as a reader. I love the idea of these sorts of outfits, and would love to see Mabry write a story about their adventures in this rough world.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Betrayal

Can’t say much about this because spoilers, but there is an act of betrayal in All the Wind in the World that both broke my heart and had me clenching my figurative fists in anger. There’s also another scene that could be seen as betrayal of a different sort, but is no less troubling.

Relationship Status: Attempting a Friendship

I don’t feel like I got super close to you, Book, but I’d like to try to be your friend. It might not be easy, but even the best of friendships take a little bit of work. I promise to keep your secrets and never rat you out.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Algonquin Young Readers, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. All the Wind in the World is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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