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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Untwine, by multiple-award-winning and Oprah's Book Club author Edwidge Danticat, is the story of 16-year-old Giselle's journey through grief and recovery after her family is in a car crash. There are lots of good role models, and there's nothing inappropriate for tweens. Most of the novel takes place in a hospital with Giselle unable to move or speak; physical pain and injuries are briefly described but not graphic. Trafficking of foster children is mentioned a couple of times. Themes of loss, recovery, family, and friendship are explored. Ultimately, it's a tale of resilience and recovery that a wide range of ages can appreciate.
What's the story?
Giselle, 16, wakes up in a hospital unable to move or speak. As she drifts in and out of consciousness, she starts to piece together the terrible car crash she was in and is desperate to know what happened to her parents and her twin sister, Isabelle. Physical recovery is only part of the battle, though. While her body heals, she'll have to rely on friends and family to fully understand what happened, UNTWINE, and cope with loss and recovery. How can she possibly go on if she might never be whole again?
Is it any good?
A poignant, at times lyrical exploration of recovery from loss, grief, healing, and the special bond that unites twins. Edwidge Danticat's graceful, gentle prose is compelling. She creates a protagonist to whom mature tweens and teens will relate despite her extraordinary circumstances by exploring universal themes about how family and friendship see us through life's most difficult times.
The mystery of how exactly the crash happened takes a back seat to exploring emotions, but Giselle's journey to recover keeps the pages turning. Danticat also carefully and lovingly evokes the culture and history of Haiti so it feels fresh and interesting without interfering with the overall somber tone. Teens in the mood for a quiet, thoughtful read who can handle the strong themes of loss will enjoy this enriching story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the special bond between siblings, especially twins. Are there any twins in your family? Do they seem to share a bond that's different from any other siblings?
Lots of books are written about loss, grief, and recovery. Which others have you read, and how does this one compare?
Giselle mentions artists, writers, and composers a lot. Why are they important to her? Look them up online or at the library and see if they match what you pictured based on Giselle's descriptions.
- Author: Edwidge Danticat
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Scholastic Press
- Publication date: September 29, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.