Friday, May 1, 2015

Young Adult Fiction: Twisted by Marjorie Brody

The week's choice was written by a fellow member of the San Antonio Writer's Guild. Marjorie Brody's Twisted is a young adult novel set in small-town Texas, so it naturally appeals to me anyway. The fact that I know that author made it that much easier to choose it for the blog.

The Situation: Fourteen year-old Sarah doesn't want to talk about what happened the night of the school dance. She would like to forget about it and move on with her life. Ideally, she would go to her parents, but her father would no doubt do something rash that would land him in jail for the rest of his life. And her mother would find a way to make it seem like it was Sarah's fault. So Sarah does whatever she can to hide the truth, and she hopes that the other person who knows what happened will do the same. Meanwhile, 18 year-old Judith has a secret of her own that her and her boyfriend Carlton must come to a decision about. The answer seems pretty obvious, especially with the future the two of them already had planned out, a future that would be ruined should Judith decide to keep the baby.

The Problem: While Sarah would love to forget about what happened, even if that means stewing in her own hatred and anger while the offenders go free, it looks like the events of that night are going to be found out anyway. But even though the police have been told, which in turn means Sarah's parents have been notified, she continues to insist on keeping her mouth shut and denying that anything happened, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. She finds an unlikely friend and ally in Judith, who is going through her own struggles with an unplanned pregnancy, an alcoholic father, and an absentee mother. Somehow, the two become friends, confiding only in each other about what is really going on. But even the girls don't realize how linked they really are.

Genre, Themes, History: This is a young adult novel set in present day small-town Texas. While Sarah is a freshman, Judith is a senior with plans to attend college and be with her boyfriend, Carlton. While Judith is wise, beautiful, and confident, she has an alcoholic father to deal with. He is drowning himself in liquor due to his grief over Judith's mother's death, and Judith is trying to take care of him and make it through these last few weeks of high school. Sarah actually has both parents fully involved in her life, but her mother is so preoccupied with seeming perfect and put-together that she ignores what is really going on with her family. Her father, however, always has Sarah's back and defends his daughter, but going to him with her issues isn't an option either because of the dangerous way he may react. Another issue that seems to plague both girls is how much gossip can circulate in a small town, which only adds to people's desire to keep things quiet and deal with issues privately, even if that means causing more harm. There are many instances throughout the book that seem like they would be cleared up if the characters were just honest. But much like in real life, sometimes things aren't quite what they seem, and there are more issues than what shows on the surface.

My Verdict: The title on this one is most certainly appropriate. The story appears to be going one way, and then makes several sharp turns before the book is over. In fact, the story continued to take twists right up until the very end...much like an actual twister. It certainly made for a compelling read; however, some of the twists and turns did seem cheap. Something like this can be really great if it is done well, but as the story got closer to the end, many of the twists felt like shortcuts the author took to hurry up and get to the ending. If the novel were a bit longer and the story were given just a little bit longer of a timeline, the ending probably wouldn't have felt so convenient and slapped together.

Favorite Moment: When Sarah was finally ready to tell the truth about what happened to her.

Favorite Character: Judith has her own demons, but she ultimately stops being too afraid to face them. It becomes clear why Sarah is so drawn to her.

Recommended Reading: As for a young adult novel, I would recommend Ava Dellaira's Love Letters to the Dead as a good follow-up. If you're looking for something more geared towards adults, I would recommend The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

No comments: