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Tangled Up In You (Or, Don’t You ... Forget About Me)

Meghan reviews Tangled by Carolyn Mackler, which is about four kids on holiday (whose dynamic resembles that of those five kids in detention).

Tangled Up In You (Or, Don’t You ... Forget About Me)

BOOK REPORT for Tangled by Carolyn Mackler

BFF Charm: Yes, No, Maybe So
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Right On
Bonus Factors: Breakfast Club
Relationship Status: It's Complicated

The Deal:

Sweet-but-dorky Jena gets a last-minute vacay on a tropical island for spring break. Awesome, right? No. She's dragged along with her mom, her mom's totally loaded bff and the bff's perfect up-and-coming actress daughter Skye, and all she wanted to do was her usual -- hang out with her grandmother who tells her she's "luscious" not chubby, and go to all-you-can-eat buffets. Jena meets and hooks up with Dakota, a hot player boy who might be her ticket to less-than-loserdom. until Skye steals him away, that is. What Jena doesn't know is Skye has way more problems than which pair of Manolos to wear to dinner -- problems she's never even imagined. Dakota thinks Jena's way cute, but he has some issues of his own, and dealing with them might change his life. Then there's Dakota's brother Owen, who'd rather spend the whole week blogging for "Loser With A Laptop" than check out phosphorescent bays and hot chicks with his brother. The small connections the four make on this holiday don't seem like much at first, but they have a way of affecting all four kids' lives.

BFF Charm: Yes, No, Maybe So

Yes to Skye. She's really down to earth, but no one can get past her gorgeous body and acting talent (I know, i know, sob story), and I really identified with her major struggle with depression (although without the dead Brazilian artist father and the suicide notes left for strangers). Her story's the third in the book, and I felt like it was the most realistic and sympathetic. Totally weird to rehearse boarding school slut seduction scenes with the mom, but hey. Whatever works for ya, Skye.

Maybe to Jena and Owen. I mean, Jena's really sweet, and I'd definitely wave at her if I saw her at the mall and let her sit at my table at lunch, but she's a bit too painfully dorky with her notebook of quotes (I know, I know, you can't tell me we ALL haven't been there) and her love of Nicholas Sparks and Nora Roberts. She's sweet and caring, and doesn't really mind being dorky, and it sounds like I'm saying I wouldn't be bffs with myself in high school, but that's not it. I would totally give her my bff charm, but let's be honest -- it's not the quotebook (which is kinda cool, cos she also collects random notes and bits of writing she comes across, a la Found Magazine), it's the Nicholas Sparks. NICHOLAS SPARKS. I gotta draw the line somewhere, and I draw it at a girl who says "Albert Einstein (smart) -- Toni Morrison (very smart) -- Nicholas Sparks (pure genius)". And Owen's a sweet guy, but I don't think he's capable of being bffs with a GIRL. Or even many guys, for that matter. But I gotta applaud where he ends up going -- there's more to this Brian Krakow than meets the eye.

Dakota? Um, sorry, no. I know you've had a tough life, dude, but damn. There's no reason to be such an asshole. Even when he starts on the path to redemption, he's still an asshole. Plus I just can't take a guy seriously when he wears a poser-surfer seashell necklace. Call me shallow, but there it is.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

There's some mad gettin' it on with Jena and Dakota, but her (understandable!! She's not the only late bloomer out there) reticence and insecurity and just plain, "Damn slow DOWN dude! I don't even know your last name!" takes all the swoon out of it for me (and, um, I hope so for other people). I mean, at first it's kind of exciting to be the girl no one notices who suddenly gets attention from boys, and it's definitely hard to handle, but it's really not cool pretty quickly. Skye and Dakota have way more problems to worry about than gettin' swoony, but Owen's story is rather sweet and high on the jittery nervousness of a first relationship, if low on the actual swooniness. But he bumps things up from a 2 to a 4.

Talky Talk: Right On

I like Carolyn Mackler's style (have you read The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things? No!?!? What?!?). Nothing seems forced or weird (ok, ok, so the fake Facebook/Myspace thing called ReaLife totally bugged me, but that's about it. And I guess it's hard to decide if you're going to date yourself in the future by referencing REAL pop culture stuff or if you're going to loser yourself in the present by making up lame-sounding standins), and she totally nails a teen's confusion and difficulty speaking out when dealing with major shizz. I mean, c'mon, raise your hand if you spent your teen angst years writing poetry about your dramz rather than going to moms and dad for help? Yeah, that's what I thought. The moms and dads are (mostly) caring, usually misguided, and sometimes sweet, but only occasionally helpful. At least they're helpful with the big stuff and DUDE tell a grownup when the dramz is that big, mkay? Cos that's a good thing.

Bonus Factor: The Breakfast Club

Right, so you don't get this from the back of the book, but the four kids never end up in the same room together hanging out. There's no detention (duh, it's spring break), and actually the book only STARTS on spring break and goes into the summer, but there's still a total Breakfast Clubby thing going on. Dakota's totally the athlete and criminal, Skye's totally the princess, Jena's the ... well, she's kind of a cross between the princess and basket case, Owen's the brain. And of course, they all are a brain ... and an athlete ... and a basket case ... and a princess ... and a criminal.

Casting Call:

Well, Molly Ringwald and the rest of the Brat Pack are WAAAAY too old to play the kids (although it'd be awesome to cast them all as the parents -- Molly Ringwald and Judd Nelson as Jena's parents, Ally Sheedy as Owen and Dakota's neurotic single mom, Emilio Estevez as the boys' tough-guy sheriff dad, erm ... I guess Anthony Michael Hall can't really be Skye's mom, though). Instead, I've got:

Madisen Beaty as Jena

Lucy Hale as Skye

Mark Salling as Dakota

John Francis Daley as Owen

Relationship Status: It's Complicated

Skye, you're totally welcome to come be a normal person with me, and Jena and Owen, we can hang out, too. If Dakota comes along, no big deal, but I'm definitely not going out with him alone. I really liked parts of this book, and felt like some were that awkward lab partner I only talked to in biology class when we had to cut up the frog. I really liked a lot of this book, but not all of it. I think it's one of those books where everyone gets something out of it, depending on their own lives, especially since it's a first-person from 4 different points of view. It's like dating a guy with a bunch of friends you're not friends with, and some of them make you feel way uncool and some make you feel uncomfortable, and you'd really rather just hang with him alone (especially cos your friends make him feel the same way).

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.