Excerpt provided by Syndetics
<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">chapter one I spent the last Friday of summer vacation spreading hot, sticky tar across the roof of George Washington High. My companions were Dopey, Toothless, and Joe, the brain surgeons in charge of building maintenance. At least they were getting paid. I was working forty feet above the ground, breathing in sulfur fumes from Satan's vomitorium, for free. Character building, my father said. Mandatory community service, the judge said. Court-ordered restitution for the Foul Deed. He nailed me with the bill for the damage I had done, which meant I had to sell my car and bust my hump at a landscaping company all summer. Oh, and he gave me six months of meetings with a probation officer who thought I was a waste of human flesh. Still, it was better than jail. I pushed the mop back and forth, trying to coat the seams evenly. We didn't want any rain getting into the building and destroying the classrooms. Didn't want to hurt the school. No, sir, we sure didn't. Joe wandered over, looked at my work, and grunted. "We done yet?" asked Dopey. "Thunderstorms rolling in soon. Heavy weather." I looked up. There were no clouds in the sky. Joe nodded slowly, studying the roof. "Yeah, we're done." He turned off the motor on the tar kettle. "Last day for Tyler, here. Bet you're glad to be quit of us, huh, kid?" "Nah," I lied. "You guys have been great." Dopey cackled. "If them sewer pipes back up again, we'll get you out of class." There had been a few advantages to working with these guys. They taught me how to steal free soda out of the vending machines. I snagged a couple of keys when they weren't looking. Best of all, the hard labor had turned me from Nerd Boy into Tyler the Amazing Hulk, with ripped muscles and enough testosterone to power a nuclear generator. "Hey, get a load of this!" Toothless shouted. We picked our way around the fresh tar patches and looked where he was pointing, four stories down. I stayed away from the edge; I wasn't so good at heights. But then I saw them: angels with pony tails gathered in the parking lot. The girls' tennis team. Wearing bikini tops and short shorts. Wearing wet bikini tops and wet short shorts. I inched closer. It was a car wash, with vehicles lined up all the way out to the road, mostly driven by guys. Barely clad girls were bending, stretching, soaping up, scrubbing, and squealing. They were squirting each other with hoses. And squealing. Did I mention that? "Take me now, Lord," Toothless muttered. The marching band was practicing in the teachers' lot. They fired up their version of "Louie, Louie." Finely toned tennis-angel butts bounced back and forth to the beat. Then a goddess rose up from the hubcap of a white Ford Explorer. Bethany Milbury. The driver of the Explorer said something. Bethany smiled and blew at the soapsuds in her hands so bubbles floated through the air and landed on his nose. The driver melted into a puddle on the front seat. Bethany threw back her head and laughed. The sun flashed off her teeth. Joe's tongue dropped out of his mouth and sizzled on the hot roof. Dopey took off his glasses, rubbed them on a corner of his shirt, and put them back on. Toothless adjusted himself. Bethany bounced along to the next car in line, a dark-green Avenger that was burning oil. Bethany Milbury pushes me against the hood of my cherry-red, turbocharged Testarossa. "I love fast cars," she whispers, soapy fingers in my hair. "This is the fastest," I say. "I've been waiting so long for you, Tyler. . . ." Her head tilts, her lips open. I am so ready for this. She grabs my arm and snarls, "Be careful, dummy, you'll break your neck." No, wait. I blinked. I was on a hot tar roof with three smelly grown men. Joe was gripping my arm, yanking me back from the edge. "I said, be careful, dummy. That first step is a doozy." "Sorry," I said. "I mean, thanks." A navy-blue 1995 Mercedes S500 sedan rolled into the parking lot. It came to complete stop. Left blinker flashing, it turned and parked in front of the building. A man in a black suit got out of the driver's seat. Stood next to the car. Looked up at me and tapped the face of his watch once, twice, three times. I had inconvenienced him again. Dopey, Toothless, and Joe crawled out of sight. They had seen my father detonate before. Excerpted from Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Kirkus Book Review
Anderson returns to weightier issues in the style of her most revered work, Speak (1999), and stretches her wings by offering up a male protagonist for the first time. Tyler was always the kind of guy who didn't stand out until he spends the summer before his senior year working as punishment for spray painting the school. His new image and buff physique attracts Bethany--the über-popular daughter of his father's boss--but his angry and distant father becomes even more hostile towards him. Despite the graffiti incident, though, Tyler is a conscientious, albeit confused, young man, trying to find his way. Unfortunately, his newfound notoriety as a "bad boy" leads to false accusations that land him--and his father's job--in hot water. As tension mounts, Tyler reaches a crisis point revealed through one of the most poignant and gripping scenes in young-adult literature. Taking matters into his own hands, Tyler decides that he must make a choice about what kind of man he wants to be, with or without his father's guidance. (Fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
New York Times Book Review
EVEN a decade ago, there were very few books in the young adult section of the bookstore that a reasonably sophisticated 16-year-old would enjoy. Back then, "YA" novels were almost always written for (and sold to) middle-school students. Now, books like "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing" and "The Book Thief" are being read not only by teenagers but also by their parents. So it is not entirely surprising that before the first chapter of Laurie Halse Anderson's new novel, "Twisted," there is a bold note, seemingly stamped onto the page: "This is not a book for children." This is ostensibly a warning (though by the standards of contemporary books for teenagers, "Twisted" is tame). But it is also a marketing ploy: after all, no selfrespecting teenager considers herself a child. Many people contributed to the transformation in the audience for young adult novels, but one of the most important was Anderson. Her novel "Speak" (1999) was one of the first seriously good books published for teenagers to be read widely by them. It tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a clanless outcast who barely endures her freshman year at a suburban high school, and it features one of the best young narrative voices this side of Holden Caulfield. Anderson's new novel, "Twisted," isn't set in the same suburb, but it might as well be. We find ourselves again in an upper-middle-class public school ruled by an iron-fisted social elite. But this time our guide is a guy - the world-class loser Tyler Miller, who at the start of his senior year is just wrapping up a community service stint imposed in punishment for what he calls "the Foul Deed." (It involved spray-painting graffiti all over school. In the novel's funniest moment, Tyler laments having misspelled "testicle.") Tyler isn't eager to return to school; in fact, he prefers manual labor. "I was good at digging holes," he notes. It's the rest of life he's not good at. He may be enrolled in three A.P. courses and calculus, but Tyler is seriously troubled. He immediately begins doing poorly in most of his classes. His nerdy best friend, Yoda, is looking to date Tyler's sister. And Tyler is in love (or lust, anyway) with Bethany, whose dad runs the company Tyler's dad works for. Tyler's dad, an accountant turned executive who is routinely humiliated by his boss, is at home a venomously cruel man prone to rage and emotional abuse. His and Tyler's tortured relationship is the axis on which "Twisted" turns. The familial clashes feel suffocatingly, terrifyingly authentic here - and ultimately help keep the tension high when Tyler is accused of posting photos of a drunk and naked Bethany online. "Twisted" is not another "Speak." It charts a less original narrative course, and the resolution is too pat - a happy ending that doesn't quite convince. And Tyler's voice, while believable, does not lodge in one's memory like Miranda's. But the new novel is like "Speak" in one important respect: flaws aside, it's the kind of book that some readers, particularly boys, will keep under their beds for years, turning to it again and again for comfort and a sense of solidarity. "Twisted" is a story that allows boys their sensitivity. Guys may not admit they need such stories, but they do. In "Speak," Miranda fantasizes about the things she might say but never does. In "Twisted" the fantasies are different - they are physical. Tyler imagines blowing up the school (at 3 a.m. so no one will get hurt) and pounding on his father. The way he works through his destructive thoughts is active, too. At a critical moment of intense pain, Tyler and Yoda go to the batting cage rather than talk. Toward the end of the book, Tyler tells his tormenter, "A real man faces his conflicts." That confrontation may involve talking, but the implication throughout the book is that facing one's conflicts is, for men, largely a nonverbal affair. This conception of masculinity strikes me as simplistic (to be fair, I am kind of a wimp). But there is room in this world for more than one way of being a guy. What Anderson finds in this book is a way to celebrate the urges traditionally associated with male adolescence - for sex, for domination, for power - without glorifying violence or misogyny. Many teenagers will appreciate that, especially those who, like Tyler, are finding their way in a world suspicious of them. So, no, this is not a book for children. Of course it isn't. These days, hardly any worthwhile book on the young adult shelves is. John Green is the author of "Looking for Alaska" and "An Abundance of Katherines."