When a troubled teen on probation for vandalism is falsely accused by a fellow student, he comes face-to-face with the demons raised by his troubled family life.
My love for Laurie Halse Anderson’s books knows no bounds, and Twisted is just as good as her astonishing debut Speak. In Twisted, she steps inside the head of a young man for the first time, and she gets it dead-on, not shying away from all the things about teen guys that are icky and messy and make girls uncomfortable. She dives right into Tyler’s head and gives it to us straight.
Modern technology plays a part in Twisted, and Anderson seems to get the nuances of how teens use & love their computers. In the hands of a lesser author, elements like IM and a computer game would’ve sounded phony and out-of-place, but here they feel organic to the story and the characters.
Now, the story. Tyler’s problems are heavy. They’re real. Anderson isn’t kidding around (she never is); Tyler’s in real danger. Like in Speak, the sense of risk and jeopardy is palpable, and the stakes are as high as they can be. There are some harrowing scenes in Twisted, and the end brought tears to my eyes. At the same time, Twisted isn’t an after-school special. The issues it raises are only a part of the story, not its raison d’etre. She keeps her focus squarely on Tyler, and letting us get to know him as a person. He’s three-dimensional, with complex relationships and an outlook on life that’s still in progress. Unlike Melinda in Speak, he seems to have a better sense of his parents as people, not just as who they are to him, and that seems to be a function of his age. He’s on the verge of manhood, trying out ideas about life, turning a critical eye to things he used to take for granted.
Speaking of Speak, Kristen Stewart, who starred in the movie version, gets to make out with Adam Brody from the OC in the Meg Ryan movie opening this weekend. It’s called In the Land of Women, and it appears she’s all grown up, now. Good for her–I hope she becomes a huge star.
Oh, and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Live Journal is a great resource for fans and budding writers alike.