Mammoth – Jill Baguchinsky – Turner Publishing – Published 6 November 2018




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 paleontologist 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.

My thoughts

What do you get when you cross fashion with palaeontology? Mammoth is a fun YA contemporary. This summer might be all about Ice Age creatures but it also heats up with a bit of romance and a touch of big discoveries, betrayals and cover ups. In the vein of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’, Mammoth carries tones of self-acceptance and finding the confidence to embrace your inner (and outer) awesome.

When Natalie lands a summer internship at an Ice Age dig site she knows she is ready to embrace the awesome. Posting about her days at the dig on her fashion-come-palaeo blog, things get interesting when Natalie’s idol turns up. Then there are the two cute boys and the fact that her sense of style, which doubles as an armour against the bullies and trolls of the world, isn’t always practical for field work. Natalie is determined to prove to everyone that she deserves to be there, even if it means taking big risks, risks that could jeopardise her internship.

Jill Baguchinsky is an author to watch. Mammoth is fresh and funny. There are a few cringe-worthy moments, but that might be my intolerance of silly mistakes especially when fuelled by alcohol. Natalie has a lot to learn during her summer internship but you can never doubt her determination or her resilience. Fashion, clothing and perfectly applied makeup are her armour, all strategies she uses to cope with the people who judge her because of her weight and size. Yet as she faces the challenges of her internship, Natalie also gains a better understanding that sometimes people aren’t what you first expected.

With two cute boys and a rival/possible friend/roommate, there is no shortage of relationship complications. Natalie also has much to learn about the male-dominated world of palaeontology and if and how she will decide to continue her career in this field.

Mammoth is a fun, quirky and clever YA contemporary, which will appeal to readers who enjoy books about standing up for yourself, accepting yourself and others for who they are, fashion and old, dead things long buried.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction.

Genre: Contemporary.

Themes: Palaeontology, Ice Age animals, fossils, romance, fashion, blogging, body perception, weight and body size acceptance.

Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.

Advisory: Coarse language, f*** (48), sh** (38), bi*** (3), di** (3), pi** (4). Underage alcohol use to the point of drunkenness.

Published:  6 November 2018 by Turner Publishing.

Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 304 pages.

ISBN: 9781684421954

Find it on Goodreads