by Carolyn Mackler

HarperTeen, 2009. ISBN 978-0-061-73104-4.
Reviewed by Julie Baum
Posted on 02/23/2010

Teen/Girls; Fiction: Mainstream

As an adult reader who loves young adult fiction, I was eager to start Carolyn Mackler's newest novel, Tangled. The story explores a short period of time in lives of four very different teens: Jena, Dakota, Skye and Owen.

A vacation to tropical getaway Paradise finds these four teens, who have little in common, thrown together on an island. We meet them as the story takes on their point of view, one at a time. First is Jena, the bubbly, intelligent girl with insecurities about boys and her body. She is looking for her first chance at love...or at least a chance at kissing cutie Dakota. The second section tells the story of Dakota, a jock whose cheerleader girlfriend died unexpectedly and who is struggling to find out who he really is. Next we learn about Skye, a young actress with a seemingly charmed life, who begrudgingly allows Jena to tag along on her tropical adventure and whose dark secrets threaten to destroy her. The story ends with Owen, the shy, lonely, blogger who lives in the shadow of his brother Dakota's athleticism and popularity.

Reading from the perspective of each character, I was taken back to high school and the cliques and stereotypes that ruled the halls. I found it easy to relate to Jena and the insecurities that plague teenage girls.The beauty of Mackler's story telling is that each character is easily translated into a person you once knew or used to be.

This group of teens evolves as their individual stories begin to connect. By the end of the novel, each of their stories is tangled with the rest, weaving together a story of understanding and growth.

Though the novel covers some pretty serious topics, such as suicidal thoughts, divorce and tragic loss, it delivers charm and humor just as easily. As an adult, I found it interesting to read and reflect on the awkward, challenging and exciting teenage years. Tangled is a great find for young adult and not so young readers alike.

Carolyn Mackler is the author of the teen novels, The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Tangled, Guyaholic, Vegan Virgin Valentine, and Love and Other Four-Letter Words. She lives with her husband and sons in New York City. Learn more about her on her website.

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