Teen Book Reviews

Banned Books Week 2010 is just around the corner (September 25 – October 2).  With that in mind, I would like to highlight some controversial books from the past year in the hopes that you expand your mind by seeing what all the fuss is about. The first book is Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Tyler Miller has always been a bit of a geek and a wimp. He tried to stand out by painting graffiti on the school walls at the end of his junior year, but he got caught. Now at the beginning of his senior year, community service to atone for the Foul Deed has left Tyler bulked up and strong. Combined with his new bad boy reputation, it’s making the girls in his school take notice, especially the stunning Bethany Milbury. But when a series of pranks goes too far and too fast, Tyler is blamed because of his past, even though he’s been keeping his nose clean (mostly). Add to that a controlling, workaholic father, a spacey mother, and a jock younger sister who is dating his best friend, and Tyler can’t but feel like his life is spiraling out of control. 

This intense novel shows that Anderson has the male teen perspective nailed down just as well as she nailed down the female perspective with main character Melinda in her contemporary classic Speak. The crux of the book is Tyler’s relationship with his father, who wants him to conform and not cause trouble, but his dad has such strict standards of what trouble is that Tyler cannot help but be neck-deep in it. In his words: “Everybody told me to be a man. Nobody told me how.”

Readers who’ve experienced some (but hopefully not all) of the troubles Tyler is going through will sympathize with his plight and care about what might happen next. Tyler’s defense through humor will appeal to all readers, even while their hearts break as they journey with him on the roller coaster of his life. Setting and plot take a backseat to character development in order for Anderson to bring out the depth of teen angst that her character encounters.

Twisted is recommended for late teen readers. Check it out along with other books by Laurie Halse Anderson at Northeast Neighborhood Library and other DC Public Library branches today.

--by Brandon Digwood