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Cover image from goodreads.com

EVERYBODY TOLD HIM TO BE A MAN. NOBODY TOLD HIM HOW.

High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer working outdoors to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy–and Tyler’s secret crush. Soon his life is a roller coaster, with fantastic highs, devastating lows, and no seat belt to protect him. He has no choice. He’ll have to ride it out…

(Story synopsis from book cover of Penguin edition)

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson has been one of those books that I constantly keep in my classroom and am always recommending to my students to read…however, I had not yet had a chance to actually read Twisted myself. Once again, Anderson is able to pull the reader into the story and make them uncomfortable in as good a way as that can mean. Anderson has this ability to take a character and bring them to life in a real and gritty way that causes the character to stay with you long after you’ve finished the book and set it down.

Having read two other books by AndersonSpeak (read my review of it here) and The Impossible Knife of Memory, I knew that Twisted would not disappoint because of Anderson’s gripping writing style…and it didn’t. I could not put the book down!

We meet Tyler after he has committed the “Foul Deed” for which he had been arrested and now has to do community service to pay off the damages that were done. However, now at the beginning of his senior year, Tyler is beginning to get noticed…not just by anyone, but by Bethany Milbury-the very girl he has had a crush on and also the most popular girl in school. But what does it mean when two people cross the social boundaries established in high school? For Tyler, not anything good.

Tyler’s story takes us to the “other” side of popularity…getting picked on, made fun of, being blamed for bad things that happen because he is the scapegoat for everyone else. And for a long time Tyler had been able to handle it, but couple his new found inner strength with years of being bullied and harassed, along with an unstable home situation – how much is Tyler actually able to take? Does the final straw come when he’s suspected of a crime he didn’t commit? Or does it come when his father continues to berate him because nothing he does is ever good enough? Tyler will have a very tough, but important choice to make.

Twisted is a fantastic book for not only young adults to read so that they know they are not alone in the things that they go through, but also for parents and educators. It’s important for all of us to realize that situations aren’t always what they seem. We also need to realize that as adults, we need to be supportive of every student and child no matter what we might have previously thought.

I would encourage you to visit Laurie Halse Anderson’s website for a list of more of her books. The ones I have already read do not disappoint and I am looking forward to reading more from her.

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