Hello Humans! I’m excited to finally sit down and bash out my thoughts on Mammoth. Some readers may remember this book from a Want to Read Wednesday post back in June. I was privileged enough to be sent an ARC by the publisher after that post and then read the book in under a day I was so sucked into the story. If you’re looking for a book that you can let yourself completely fall into then I couldn’t recommend this more.
The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star palaeontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.
It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.
Until it isn’t.
When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.
Mammoth follows the story of Natalie Page, a girl who loves both vintage fashion and palaeontology, she also happens to be fat. I fell so hard for Natalie as soon as I started this story. I was never a palaeontologist but I did do an Archaeology degree, while the two disciplines are very different I could relate to the hours spent digging in the hot sun! I can’t speak to the accuracy of the scientific process described but it certainly seemed like thorough research had been done. But back to Natalie, some of her internal struggles and the way she talked herself into things led to quite a few of those ‘wait a minute that’s just me’ moments that I so rarely get while reading. The idea of seeing your appearance as armour, of having to reassure yourself that everything is fine all the time – that hit me hard. I think a lot of people will find something to relate to in Natalie, I just want to reach into the pages and give her a hug.
There is a romance aspect to this book and I was a little worried at first that it would be the classic ‘oh no I am stuck between these two men what’s a girl to do?’ cliché. One could argue that it is that, but it didn’t feel like that was being done at the expense of giving Natalie actual character and plot. I actually thought that the romantic elements developed at quite a realistic pace (anyone who has ever been on any kind of organised trip with teenagers or as a teenager will know that these kinds of ‘summer romances’ can pop up faster than you can say ‘suncream’). If romance bothers you then this may not be a book for you, but for most people, I think this will read as an incredibly sweet story.
What I most loved about this book was that it was unashamedly in support of women in stem. Natalie doesn’t have to compromise her ‘femininity’ to explore the field she is interested in, she likes both fashion and palaeontology and that’s fine. I also liked that this story challenges the stereotypes of female friendships. I won’t spoil that, as I think it’s a great moment to read for yourself, but this is the kind of relationship development that I enjoy.
This book also recognises one of the problems this, and other fields, has, that often internships, work experience and similar opportunities go to those who are wealthier or better connected. I liked that story brought attention to that, as one can’t really talk about sexism in stem without also recognising all the other issues that can stand in a person’s way. The future is intersectional after all.
I could sit and wax lyrical about this book for an age, but I might end up spoiling things if I did. Put simply, this book was exactly what I needed, it’s light, but it doesn’t make light of things. It’s a happy story but it recognises the difficulties the characters face. It made me smile, it made me tear up, it was just…lovely.
My rating: 5/5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Do you also have an interest in archaeology or palaeontology? Let me know in the comments below!