With a nickname like Twigs, one can barely expect a book’s protagonist to lead a quiet, unassuming life. And yet, standing less than five feet tall, that is just what Madeline Henry would like as she gets ready to start her freshman year of college. But, it is not to be. With “adulthood” staring her in the face, Twigs would like to transition to the more mature (and given) moniker of Madeline, but even as her life is in shambles around her, she can’t shake her childhood image.
In a single week, Twig’s boyfriend heads off to university, leaving her behind to attend a less-than-stellar community college, her brother goes MIA as a solider in the Middle East, she is finds out that same missing brother is actually a half-brother and she smashes a car into the soon-to-be ex-husband of a woman who assaulted her with hair dye, breaking his elbow and earning a place forever in the heart of his pink-obsessed soon-to-be ex-wife.
Yes! That is how I also felt as I read Alison Ashely Formento’s new young adult book, set to be released in September.
The premise is a good one: a young girl is facing the next stage of her life as those she is closest to also go through their own personal transitions. But, it is too much of a good thing! There are twists and turns in Twig’s story that I didn’t even begin to elaborate on in the above rundown. There are boyfriends, the willful destruction of a classic car, an alcoholic father, heck, there is even the loss of an eye! The tale quickly becomes overwhelming and unbelievable in its scope.
What this narrative needs is a good editor. I really do like the potential behind this book, but I feel like Formento would benefit from someone looking at her story outline and crossing out at least a third of the drama. (This reminds me of the famous quote by Coco Chanel about always looking in the mirror before you leave the house and taking one thing off. This book could use a little accessory editing.)
Twigs, while a young adult book, definitely skews to the high school side of the genre. With talk of college and more than one delicately veiled reference to Twigs’ sex life, it would be most appropriate for more mature teenagers. Maybe at sixteen I would have appreciated the endless drama of Twigs’ life, feeling like she was a character who could relate to the daily drama of being a sophomore, making the book more appealing to its intended audience.
I didn’t dislike the book, but it was just a bit too much for me. Alison Ashely Formento has something to work with here, but after finishing the book and pondering it for a few days, I still can’t say I have digested all that the book threw my way. For this reason, Twigs earns a middle-of-the-road: