I don’t know if I have ever read a novel where the epigraph sums up a work so well. In this case it is nothing more or less than the definition of a word from Webster's Dictionary. The word is twist, and the novel is Twisted, by Marjorie Brody. Twisted is a YA book, and it can be read by a YA audience, but don’t think for a minute that this is an easy book to read. Twisted is one of the most psychologically sophisticated novels I have read in a long time, and it manages to deal with several difficult and disturbing issues, without dumbing them down or making them less troubling, in such a way that they are accessible to the audience that needs to hear them the most.
In Twisted fourteen year old Sarah is gang-raped by four boys on the night of the Freshman Dance. It’s horrific, and Ms. Brody manages to convey that with shirking detail but keeping the scene from being graphic. Also horrific is the fact that Sarah decides to hide the fact from her family because her Mother is too proud and would probably blame Sarah somehow. So not only does Sarah hide the tor dress and her bruises, she in fact hides the trauma even from herself, until the boy who lured her into the rape confesses to the Police. In the middle of this fiasco the only person Sarah feels that she can trust is an eighteen-year old schoolmate,Judith. The older girl's life seems ideal; she has a great family, is engaged to a guy who loves her, and has plans for college. She is also pregnant, and encourages Sarah to tell someone. Through thick and thin it seems like Judith is mysteriously drawn to the younger girl, and she encourages Sarah to tell the truth, but Sarah seems like she will do anything to keep the situation quiet.
If this was all that there was to Twisted, it would be solid, but remember the title; Ms. Brody has a bunch of finely tuned surprises up her sleeves, and she tends to drop them in just when I started to get comfortable. There are big twists and small twists, but they are all so integral to the story that I can’t let them slip without spilling a barrel of spoilers, so I won’t. Just be prepared to be surprised.
The characters are all solid, along with the prose. I was a bit confused at times about the narrative voice, but even that might be a deep and truly subtle twist,so I can’t complain too much. There were a few times in middle where the pace dragged a bit, but never for too long. Just when things got a bit calm Ms. Brody unfurled one of her psychological bombshells, and pulled me to the edge of my seat once more. The last few, near the end were particularly shocking, and best of all, planned and executed with restraint and style. All in all, Twisted is a stiletto of a suspense novel, short, sharp and sleek. I ‘d like to see Ms. Brody take a shot at an all-ages thriller soon; I sure that she would really blow my doors off.