Sunday, July 29, 2012

Twisted, by Laurie Halse Anderson

I had read an article about how Laurie Halse Anderson's book Speak has been challenged a number of times in school libraries.  There was a case in Republic, Missouri, in which Speak, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut were challenged, with the intent to be removed.  Of those books, only Speak was retained.  Speak is about date rape and I wanted to read it to see what I thought.  The library didn't have it at the branch I was at, but they did have Twisted, which is by the same author.  So I checked it out and put Speak on hold.  That'll be one of the next books I read.

The author:  The back sleeve of the book reads, "Laurie Halse Anderson is the author of the multiple award-winning, New York Times best-selling novel Speak, as well as Catalyst (an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults) and Prom (a New York Times Best Seller.)" She clearly has credibility and any book of hers will come with the understanding that no matter what people think of her topics, credible sources say she is writing great literature.

Twisted is about a boy, Tyler, who used to be scrawy  and picked on, the ultimate high school nerd guy who doesn't even get the rights to brag about being super smart.  He's failing his AP classes.  He had pulled a prank the year before to stand out, to make himself NOT be That Loser Guy, but it involved ruining school property and suddenly, he's got a bad rep and a probation officer.  He also spent the summer doing hard physical labor as part of his community service and now when school begins, he is not scrawny anymore.  He's had a growth spurt and he's built.  The girl of his dreams notices him, but things aren't that easy.  His dad is really psycho and his mom drinks and avoids the controlling abusive nature of the dad.  When Tyler gets accused of something really bad related to Girl of His Dreams, everyone is all too willing to believe he'd do something like that.

The voice is very realistic.  Anderson captures the pain of the big, awful high school experience so well that it almost physically hurt to read it.  The cliques, the unspoken rules of social conformity-- yep, she caught it all.

SPOILER:  Stop reading now if you hate spoilers.

My one complaint is the ending, which I felt was really fairly unrealistic and rushed as far as his resolution with the father, but she's an award winning author, so I guess I just have a different opinion.  That's okay.  Overall, I think this is a very good book and captures the estranged teen voice well, ending with a hopeful message that involves reinventing oneself.

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