Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Twisted, by Laurie Halse Anderson

TWISTED, by Laurie Halse Anderson, tracks the unravelling of former geek Tyler Miller, as he faces senior year as the school pariah. Tyler had performed the "Foul Deed" the spring before, landing him on probation for the summer. The Foul Deed, the mispelled spray-painting of school property, was a misguided attempt to gain popularity after years of invisibility in the realm of nerddom. Along with a few inches of height, Tyler gains muscle mass at his forced labor job over the summer and re-enters the fray a new man—and catches the eye of the school's Queen Bea, the woman of his dreams, Bethany. Through a series of painful misadventures, public humiliations, academic free-fall and a beating, Tyler is forced to confront the truth; his poor self image has nothing to do with what he looks like or what he's done and has everything to do with the emotional knot he's in because of his twisted relationship with his volatile father. Ultimately Tyler confronts his Dad in an emotional and carthatic scene.

Ms. Anderson, noted for her ground-breaking YA novel, SPEAK, has covered familiar territory for her, but loses none of her biting wit and awkwardly painful moments. The book is heart-breaking, humorous and hopeful, all at the same time. I will probably read this again to absorb the masterful way Ms. Anderson builds a story based on characters who in less competent hands might be unsympathetic.

As a parent and former teen the book touched me on many levels and kept me turning the pages until I finished it, sadly, way too fast.

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