Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
If TWISTED is in your "to be read" pile, please don't wait - move it to the top.
This is a novel about pressure - the three P's - parental pressure, peer pressure, and personal pressure.
Tyler Miller is guilty of something he refers to as The Foul Deed. His punishment involves losing his driving privileges, doing community service at the school, working for a local landscaping company, reporting to a probation officer, keeping his grades up, and as everyone keeps reminding him, "keeping his nose clean."
Tyler finds a positive side to this punishment. His recent hard labor has created muscles where his previously dweeby bod never had any. He also realizes that the very popular Bethany Milbury seems to be interested in him. Could The Foul Deed have taken his former life and given him a better one in its place?
All's well until school starts, and Tyler finds himself swamped with AP classes and the pressure to do well. His father, an ambitious over-achieving businessman, rules the home front. Tyler, his younger sister, and his mother all suffer verbal abuse from his father's direction. Tyler thinks it's possible and wants to make things work, but the demands seem overwhelming.
To complicate matters, Tyler is not welcomed into Bethany Milbury's circle of friends with open arms. Her twin brother, Chip, has had it in for Tyler since middle school, and the idea that Tyler is getting involved with his sister doesn't set well with Chip. Tyler is up against Chip and his buddies and a completely different social class. Can he stand up to all this pressure?
Laurie Halse Anderson is well-known for her novel SPEAK. When I heard about TWISTED, I read that she had created something even better. I have to agree. This book has me hoping she is hard at work on her next one.
"Everbody told me to be a man - Nobody told me how"
Twisted is the story of a young man who's been a loser and a nobody until a poorly conceived prank at the end of his junior year lands him in legal trouble. That includes probation, a required job with a landscaping firm and a summer-time afterwork stint in the school's janatorial crew for restitution. However the hard work pays off in unanticipated ways. His new work-hardened physique and his newly minted bad boy reputation make him a personality at school and attractive to the girl of his fantasies.
But as he's processing these changes our protagonist has to deal with troubles at home. His dad's growing distance from the family, his mom's drinking and his little sister's too-wise take on boys, high-school and popularity.
What I expected to be another sweet teen romance turned into something much more. This is a book about growing up, being misunderstood, the relationship betwen fathers and sons and many other issues that are all too common in today's world.
This is a good intelligent read but it's also witty and fun and wise. I highly recommend this book.