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{September 15, 2013}   {ARC Review} Twigs by Alison Ashley Formento

17638282From Goodreads: 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.

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This is certainly not an uplifting book.  Going in I knew that Twigs was going to be dealing with some difficult situations, but her life keeps going from bad to worse, and I came out of the novel a bit depressed.

Personally, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, let alone like many of them. Twigs is a tiny girl, size 4’9.  I’m 5’1, so we’re close in height and I understood a lot of the angst that she felt about her size and how people referred to her size all the time.  The fact that she also has a baby face and is mistaken to be a child on multiple occasions is also something I experienced a lot at her age, though I never lashed out as Twigs does because it didn’t bother me as much as it bothers her, so I didn’t understand that part, I guess.  I feel like, in retrospect, that was her way of coping with everything else that was going on in her life, fighting back about her size since she couldn’t fight back against anything else, but even so, it’s not something I could personally connect with. I’ve also never lived through the hellish nightmare she does, so I think that may be why I don’t connect on the same level about the height issue, etc.

I have no respect for anyone in Twigs’ family, least of all her mother who sleeps around all the time, neglects Twigs (but not the other children), and keeps secrets.  Every time she came into a scene, my stomach recoiled because she’s an all around terrible person, and I don’t care if she tells Twigs how much she loves her in the end, or not.  Words can’t undo all the damage she’s done to Twigs’ psyche, and I have no love for her.

Twigs’ father is another lowlife.  Drunk or not, you don’t run out on your kid because of something that isn’t her fault, that she never had any control over.  It takes a while, but once readers get to the point where Twigs’ mother finally reveals the reason dad left in the first place, well, it’s stupid, especially as he blames Twigs and it’s not her fault in the least.  I’m sure, as you read, you realize that the dad Twigs has been idolizing has been extremely two-faced, and there is no excuse for his reactions towards Twigs, although everyone seems to think there is, which really irked me as I read.

Marlee wasn’t my favorite for sisters, either, but on the plus side, I didn’t note her trying to date the entire high school.  There seems to be only one man in her life, and the relationship seems quite strong, so I was confused as to what the synopsis was originally talking about here.  Maybe I missed something early on in the novel.  Perhaps?

Basically, Twigs has to deal with some terrible things in her life, and nothing has been easy for her.  Watching her go through crisis after crisis was difficult, and I’m glad she’s strong, but she also needs a break.  Thankfully, that seems to come in the form of crazy Helen and Coop, a boy from college, but not enough time was spent on either of those characters for my liking.  I don’t mind a true to life story, but I also need some more uplifting pieces along the way to keep my sanity.

While some of the events in the novel didn’t seem real to me, I’ve never been in any of the situations that Twigs finds herself in, so I’m not able to make a judgment call on them. This novel doesn’t have much in it in terms of happiness, though, and it created a gloomy mood for me as I read.  I have to pick up something a little lighter with a happy ending, I think, to counteract it.  Two stars.

2 starsF+W/Adams Media has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its official release on September 18, 2013.

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