This week's theme in my YA Lit class was contemporary life, with subjects like coming-of-age, identity, relationships, and so on and so on. It was quite a departure from last week's classic YA novels, and it's pretty amazing just how many types of stories are available to the YA audience. The three books I read were each very different in plot and theme and appropriate for very different audiences. They each contained a story that would resonate with its audience, though—stories that would hopefully connect to their readers.
This was sort of the most painful one to read, simply because it reminded me of my own high school days when I was beyond obsessed with Buffy. I cringed just thinking back on myself then and how I let a TV show consume my life. On a whole, though, it's just a light read for the right teen. A theatergoer is the obvious target, but someone with a really strong interest in some form of media would find this relevant. It has a titch of identity-awareness as Philip questions his sexuality, but that plot point doesn't dominate the story.
This book carries quite the punch. It deals with some serious identity issues, especially as they interact with environment
— parents, siblings, school, peers. Tyler is struggling with all of these things internally, as many teens do, but he has the added complication of an external identity shift. I think that's a very realistic predicament, and it's often out of an individual's control; people will make up their own minds, and that's often very difficult to change. Add on to that, Tyler has a poor support system in his parents, and he has trouble finding help. Twisted isn't a downer, really, but it does deal with some serious topics that are pretty universal to the teen brain.
Danny doesn't talk much, but you still understand how he feels, and he has a lot of the identity issues that any teen may have, not just teens of mixed race. I really noticed the dialogue between the characters and how casual it felt. It never felt like forced conversation of the author trying to imagine what a group of teens may say; it felt like he just jotted down a conversation he had recorded. I think this book would be good for a reluctant reader because it's fairly short and it doesn't try to smack the reader in the face with a big message or moral. It's just a good story about a simple character trying to figure it all out.