Monday, July 18, 2011

Tangled by Carolyn Mackler

Tangled by Carolyn Mackler is a young adult novel that I honestly would never have read had I seen it in a bookstore or on a library bookshelf.  One look at the cover would have turned me off but, let’s pretend, I picked it up to see what I thought of it, I would have read the blurb, yawned, and moved on.  But I thought it would be fun to do an online young adult summer reading thing and they chose this book so I gave it a try.

Boy am I glad I did.  As soon as I read these sentences, I was hooked:

I’m obsessed with quotes.  You name the person—Albert Einstein (smart), Toni Morrison (very smart), Nicholas Sparks (pure genius)—and I’ve got one of their sayings. 

I mean, what a ridiculous thing to say for obviously, while it may be debatable whether Morrison is smarter than Einstein, obviously Sparks is nowhere in the same category and is an insult to anyone’s intelligence.  But this is how a teenager probably would feel.  I doubt anything Einstein would say could make a young girl cry or sigh while Sparks can obviously do nothing more.  Later this same character, Jena, tells the reader that her brother, who is in college, recommends she read The Catcher in the Rye  and Dandelion Wine together, to get a gist of what 1950s America is truly like.

I can’t stop thinking about what a brilliant way it is to approach these two young adult novels, a particular era, and this was all in the very start of the novel so I was, if not hooked, at least intrigued.

Gradually all four characters are introduced.  Jena, who has the first voice of the novel, is insecure and typically adolescent, preferring to read The Bridges of Madison County and hoping for that first real love of her life.  Dakota, whose path crosses Jena’s while on vacation, and is struggling with his own selfish tendencies as he takes responsibility for his choices.  Skye, Jena’s sorta friend, who is the daughter of her mother’s friend from her own college days; a beautiful young actress who is struggling with issues she cannot reveal to anyone.  Perhaps not even to herself.  And last but not least, Owen, who is Dakota’s younger brother and a blogger, an adolescent who is not quite ready to face the world and successfully avoids it in spite of his mother’s intrusions.

As the title suggests, the four stories weave together, become “tangled” together.  And although the stories are dreadfully predictable, they are told in a quartet of first-person narratives that is interesting.  While not quite brilliant, it is effective.  I enjoyed this book.  I didn’t love it but I don’t resent having read it and, given some of the books I’ve read for book groups, is pretty close to praise coming from this reader.   

(No doubt some observant reader of this review blog can't help but notice that I too collect quotes in my other blog which I typically post on Fridays.  What?  You didn't know I did this?  Then you must have a life and not enough time to read both of my blogs.)


  1. So glad you joined our YA Cafe book club. I have to say that for me, having read all of Mackler's previous books, this one was a huge departure and I definitely enjoyed it! I think the thing that really made me love it was that I WANTED to love it at first, then I got really disappointed at the end of the Jena section and started to hate the book. Then at the end, I fell in love with it all over again.

    Great review and great to have you participating in YA Cafe book club!

  2. Thank you for hosting it. I definitely liked this book best. I liked The Summer I Turned Pretty least. Sweethearts fell in between the two of "liked a lot" and "didn't like much at all."


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