Twisted

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson.

This is another great character study for teens, except this one features a male protagonist.  At first I was worried about Laurie Halse Anderson writing a male lead, but I should have realized that it is because she nails her female characters so well that I could relax and just enjoy.

Tyler is a teen who got caught spraypainting the school.  He left his wallet behind.  So now he is considered the biggest loser in the school.  That is until his new bad boy status gets him the attention of one of the hottest girls in town.  His family life is troubled, his best friend goes by the name of Yoda and is dating his younger sister, and Tyler is faced with a life that goes up and down like a rollercoaster ride.  When he is accused of putting compromising photos of his girlfriend up online, Tyler has to decide whether it is worth living the life of a pariah once again. 

This book grabs you from the first page and never lets you go.  Relentless, deep and almost overwhelming, readers will understand the loser’s life that Tyler is living.  The characterization of every character from Tyler to his broken father to his younger sister to Yoda is spot on and reads perfectly.  They are far from cardboard characters, each displaying the wounds that they carry with them much as Tyler does.  Additionally, I enjoyed the fact that teen sexuality is addressed in a matter-of-fact way and with a great deal of humor. 

Readers of her previous novels will flock to this one, but make sure to get it into the hands of boys as well.  The knot-filled life that Tyler leads is one that many teens will recognize.