A note at the beginning of Twisted warns: This is not a book for children. Indeed it isn't, but it is a riveting book for high school students. In fact, Twisted is so compelling that I read well past midnight as some of the pivotal scenes unfolded.
The heart of this novel is its narrator, high school senior Tyler Miller, who at first glance might seem to be a typical high school loser. Tyler is doing six months of mandatory community service after spray-painting the walls of his high school with crude remarks about the principal. Take a closer look, though. Tyler is a wonderfully funny, moving narrator and, it turns out, an all-around good guy. He has one smart, true friend nicknamed Yoda. Almost everyone else is against him, however, especially his hard-nosed, workaholic father. His mother drowns all of her sorrows in gin and tonics. Things go from bad to worse when Tyler accidentally creates complete chaos during a dinner party hosted by his father's boss. Tyler leaves the disastrous party with an enemy who wants revenge the boss' son, Chip. He also leaves with the hots for the boss' daughter, Bethany. As Tyler's senior year begins, he is astounded to find that Bethany returns his interest. She invites him to a party, which gets out of hand. Someone takes unflattering pictures of Bethany and puts them on the Internet. The police get involved, and everyone is convinced that Tyler is to blame. Twisted tackles head-on many of the tough issues facing older teens: alcohol, sex, grades, popularity, honesty, parents, college and more. Despite all of this, it is ultimately an uplifting book, mainly because of the freshness of Tyler's voice and Anderson's crisp writing and storytelling. Anderson's acclaimed young adult books include Fever 1793, Prom and Speak, which was a Best Book of the Year selection by School Library Journal and a finalist for the National Book Award. Give her latest novel to a teenager ready to read about the complexities of high school, and that teen probably won't be able to put the book down. Alice Cary writes from Groton, Massachusetts.