Standalone. Merit Press/Adams Media (September 2013) NetGalley
One pint-sized girl. Ten supersized crises. And it’s high noon.
They call her “Twigs,” because she’ll never hit five feet tall. Although she was born early, and a stiff breeze could knock her over, Twigs has a mighty spirit. She needs it, as life throws a whole bucket of rotten luck at her: Dad’s an absentee drunk; Mom’s obsessed with her new deaf boyfriend (and Twigs can’t tell what they’re saying to each other). Little sister Marlee is trying to date her way through the entire high school; Twigs’ true love may be a long-distance loser after a single week away at college, and suddenly, older brother Matt is missing in Iraq. It all comes together when a couple of thugs in a drugstore aisle lash out, and Twigs must fight to save the life of the father who denied her.
Twigs' life is turning upside down. You would think just starting college would be enough of a change but no Twigs gets hit again and again with new revelations and new conflicts. And then she just can't handle it anymore - the lies, the pain - she's done. Fortunately she has Helen, a stranger she met that had a total breakdown at the store she works at, to guide her into the world of letting her feelings out and showing her family and the world she is much stronger than they could have ever believed.
I love that her mentor is somewhat crazy. Helen's a mess because she caught her husband cheating on her and now her soon-to-be-ex-husband is parading around town with another woman. She starts flinging hair dye around in Twigs' store (that's how they meet), she steals her ex-husbands car and destroys it, she just doesn't care about anything but exacting revenge on the man that she thought she loved. She ends up being the perfect friend Twigs needs and is even a sort of pseudo mother. It's kind of sad that Twigs has to rely on someone she just met but Twigs and Helen have a great relationship. Something Twigs is lacking with her own mother.
Her mother and sister really don't get that she can't handle a lot of what is going on in her life. In her own way Twigs is having a meltdown. It's not like she even did anything wrong! She just isn't talking to anyone now. She needs to deal in her own way. How could they not understand this? They pretty much criticize her by not being there for them. She's the type of person who probably always has been there for them. She might be even a little of a pushover but now that she's thinking independently they think she's being a selfish? Ugh.
Her sister's boyfriend... that whole "relationship" was just weird. I couldn't care less about them. Her mother too was a pain although she did somewhat redeem herself. Amusingly, I liked her boyfriend better than her. Her absent dad is coming around again but he doesn't actually want to see her. Her brother is no where to be found and he's the only person she could truly count on in her family. Everything that could be thrown at Twigs was. It was kind of ridiculous but in a way I could see what the author was doing. She was getting Twigs to wake up and stand up for herself finally. For her not to be Twigs anymore but to be Madeline Annette Henry, the strong person she was meant to be.
So although her family annoyed me to no end I did like Twigs as the protagonist and Helen as her friend. I also liked her love interest - a very unsuspecting guy who is perfect for her - funny, sweet, and kind of pint sized himself. He didn't overshadow Twigs and what was happening with her. He was just a bonus for Twigs. I liked that this book was not only about standing up for yourself but letting go. Letting go of your emotions and freeing yourself from that weight of things you think is best to leave inside. This was a strange yet sort of satisfying read. It wasn't out of this world but it was... interesting to say the least.
Overall: Twigs was a great protagonist who I enjoyed reading about (and of course Helen). Her family was unfortunately a pain. There was a lot of things happening with the story which might be a good thing or a bad thing. All in all this was a good book. Strange, but good.
Alison Ashley Formento is a picture books author as well. You can check out her website here.
You can also take a look at the Twigs book trailer below. (Looks like it is for a much younger age group than it is)