Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

“’Hannah, where was I last night?’ I whispered.

‘What are you talking about, you idiot?’

‘Just help me out. What was I doing last night?’

‘You tried to pay me to IM Bethany and convince her to go out with you. And then you took a shower that was so long you emptied the hot water tank.’

Oh. That.

‘Thank you,’ I said.

I couldn’t have done it.  It wasn’t me. Good. Sometimes I scared myself, because once you’ve thought long and hard enough about doing something that is colossally stupid, you feel like you’ve actually done it, and then you’re never quite sure where your limits are.”

Tyler is on probation for his Foul Deed: defacing school property.  That might not be so bad, but when combined with a rocky relationship with his Corporate Tool Father, the social trials of high school, and his mad crush for the beautiful Bethany, Ty’s struggling.  Worse still, when Bethany drinks too much at a party, and pictures of her get plastered on the internet, Ty is the logical suspect: after all, they were sort-of dating, and he already did something stupid and ended up on probation.

He didn’t do it, but nobody believes him. He gets beaten up, placed on an informal in-school suspension, and ostracized.  The police take his computer.  His father sends away applications for military school.  And Tyler?  Well, he ends up in his dad’s bedroom, with a handgun in his mouth and little to keep him from taking his life.

Just like the stamp on the first page says, “This is not a book for children.”  But I think it’s a book everyone should read: not only because of the very relevant topics (bullying, suicide, internet privacy), but also because of the skillful writing.  Laurie Halse Anderson is a genius with voice.  Perhaps anyone could put together a book about bullying and how much it sucks to be a teenager sometimes, but not many writers can craft such believable, sympathetic characters.  Ty is angsty, hormonal, tender, brave, and terrified by turns.  He’s also wickedly funny, and that’s the best part of this book.  That’s where I think Anderson’s strength lies: she creates great characters, and the first-person perspective allows readers to really get to know them through their thoughts.  Ah, I love it!

This book is a great combination of traditional coming-of-age elements, family drama, and an interesting, believable storyline.  I think you’re going to really love it.  If you’re fans of other realistic teenage problem books like Anderson’s novel Speak, or Matt De La Pena’s Mexican White Boy, this is one you shouldn’t pass up.  Also, it won the ALA Best Book for Young Adults, as well as being chosen as an ALA Quick Pick.

Happy Reading!

Author’s website: http://madwomanintheforest.com/

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Twisted. Viking: New York, 2007. Ages 15 and up. 250 pp.

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