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By Laurie Halse Anderson
ISBN 978-0670061013
Genre: Realistic Fiction

Over the summer Tyler Miller has blossomed. He was just another geek that was picked on the year before. Then he was arrested for what he calls the awful incident; spray painting graffiti on his high school. Probation led to community service with the custodians at the school and a summer of hard labor with a landscaping company. So scrawny Tyler is now buff and developed. The kids have started to notice him at school, including the popular Bethany Milbury.

Things are not great at home. His father is harsh and distant. His mom seems to live under his father’s shadow. His younger sister has started high school and Tyler feels very protective, especially when she starts dating his best friend. But Tyler is constantly on guard, because of his probation, yet he’s caught up in the attention that Bethany Milbury has started to show him.

Attending a party he should never have been at (because it broke the rules of his probation - underage drinking, drugs, and past curfew) leads to another awful incident. Bethany is drunk and throws herself at Tyler. He rebuffs her advances because she’s drunk and he knows it’s just not right. (It was hard for me to believe that a teenage boy would be so noble, but I was still cheering for Tyler.) Everyone hears about it and so when compromising photos of Bethany end up on the Internet, Tyler is the first suspect in the police’s investigation.

Let me start by saying that Twisted, was a quick and gripping read. Tyler’s voice was enjoyable. I really liked grew to like Tyler. I felt his deep despair and wanted him to conquer all. I wanted everyone to see he was in the right. And Laurie Halse Anderson (author of the Printz honor book Speak) has a simplicity in her writing that capture’s a reader’s attention.

(And I guess this contains spoilers….. so you might not want to read this part….)

Yet, I really wasn’t sure what I thought about this book, until someone posted a request for a YA title that deals with suicide and someone mentioned this book as a possibility. It wasn’t Tyler’s spiral into despair that bugged me. Home life sucks. School sucks. His only and best friend is too busy dating his sister to pay much attention to him. So the spiral rang true, but the climb back to a strong sense of self is what lost me. This wasn’t a book about suicide – though Tyler does flirt with the idea. He holds the gun, yet I never believe that Tyler would do it, even though his misery is so real. And what makes this not a suicide book in my opinion, is that to be so close to taking your own life, you need help. You need to talk to someone a friend, a trusted adult, because the climb back to self-worth is just not going to happen on its own. That’s where this book lost me. Tyler accomplishes it all on his own. He confronts his father on his own and comes to self on his own. That's what I don't believe.

Twisted is a great read and fans of Laurie Halse Anderson will surely want to pick up her latest accomplishment and it wouldn’t surprise me if this picked up some critical mention.


Apr. 18th, 2007 09:15 pm (UTC)
I love Luna, even though the subject matter means that it has a niche audience. (So many kids are afraid to read books about things like "that" for fear that other people will think they are "that" way.

One Realistic Genre book that I just read and found powerful was Tyrell by Coe Booth. It's very raw, however, written in ghetto-speak from the POV of a 15 year old boy in NYC. He and his family (mom, and younger brother Troy) are homeless due to the fact that dad's in prison, and Tyrell's mother does nothing to support her sons. She thinks providing for a family is a man's job, so, by default, she believes it's up to Tyrell to get the family out of the roach-infested hotel in which social services is sheltering them. Her solution is for Tyrell to start dealing drugs; some of his friends do, and they make good money. Tyrell doesn't want to go that route though; although he has dropped out of school and he's not above minor larceny, he doesn't want to wind up in prison like his father. He has a smart, "good girl" girlfriend, and all he wants is to keep Troy out of foster care, get a job, and support Novisha through college when she graduates from high school.

The book is one week in Tyrell's life. While the sexual content isn't graphic, the narrative is laced with profanity. But it's honest and heartbreaking, and I literally couldn't put the book down.
Apr. 19th, 2007 12:15 am (UTC)
I forgot to say that I've had Luna on the side to read for a couple of years now. I heard great things about it, but never did get to read it.
As for Tyrell. I ordered it for my library before it had any reviews and once it came in I realized it might be too mature for middle school. I read 1/2 way through and just couldn't read more.
It rubbed me the wrong way. Something about it rubbed me the wrong way, but if I decide to put it on the shelf (all the reviews say grades 9+, and we only have grades 6-8) they're going to love it.
Apr. 19th, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)
I can understand your reaction, because the language is relentlessly street and the situation is so grim. (Of course, I don't know if this is what bothered you, but it did bother me!) What I liked was the fact that Tyrell tries to maintain a kind of integrity even though some of his values have been warped by his upbringing, or lack of it. He knows his father is a lousy role model and that his mother always puts herself first, yet he tries to find redeeming qualities in them since they are family. He genuinely loves his girlfriend, respects her, and wants her to succeed; he cares about his brother, and he does his best when he's thrust into the role of surrogate parent despite how much he resents having to take on the responsibility. In particular, I admired how drop-out Tyrell valued Troy's education. He insisted that Troy always do his homework and fought to have him reclassified out of special ed because he knew it was a false label and he could see how it was limiting his little brother's progress.

I don't know. I just found myself rooting for the kid.

Even so, the book isn't going into my classroom library. I'm donating it to a friend who teaches high school because I think it is too mature for 7th and 8th graders. They would love it, but they're not quite ready to read it.
May. 8th, 2007 01:20 pm (UTC)
Sorry it took so long to respond. I posted right before my hand drama started. Tyrell definitely does not belong in a middle school and it won't make it to the shelves. Though it's far better than some of the street lit they read! But I can see why it's garnered so much attention even though i just didn't like it. My dislike is on a personal level rather than a critical one? Makes sense?
Apr. 24th, 2007 06:07 am (UTC)
I finished reading Luna the other day and really enjoyed it. I actually read it in two sittings. The book flowed nicely and I really cared about all the characters, especially Regan and Liam.

I love Luna, even though the subject matter means that it has a niche audience. (So many kids are afraid to read books about things like "that" for fear that other people will think they are "that" way.

It's a shame that we live in a world where people think that way. People miss so many great things because they are worried about what others may think.
Apr. 24th, 2007 06:08 am (UTC)
I also meant to say that Tyrell sounds interesting as well. I'll have to check that out as well. Thanks for the rec.
May. 8th, 2007 01:21 pm (UTC)
let me know what you think of Tyrell! Coe Booth, the author, just won the LA Book Prize for this one.
May. 8th, 2007 01:22 pm (UTC)
OK, I have to read this one. Seriously, on the side for two years now!