Friday, February 13, 2009

Unraveling, by Michelle Baldini and Lynn Biederman

Amanda is always getting into trouble with her mother. Her younger sister, on the other hand, is perfect and skates through life unscathed. But it isn't all Amanda's fault -- Mom's sister and even Dad notice that Amanda seems to get singled out a lot for blame. But it's complicated and no one is really all that perfect in this look at familial relationships.

A complex story that is at its strongest when it is dealing with the mother-daughter relationship. It struggles more when it attempts to deal with peer pressure and teen sex (as it is pretty obvious that these subplots really don't have much to do with the story). Also, a little more subtlety in the maternal abuse would have gone a long way (most readers will have to admit that Amanda has it a lot worse than they ever have had it).

But putting that aside, the story itself is striking and the characters true and vibrant. I, of course, have no first-hand experience with mother-daughter relationships, but this story seemed honest and accurate. The frustrations and disconnects between Mom and Amanda seemed familiar, and I am sure that all of us will recognize a bit of their struggle in our own relationships with our parents (or children, as the case may be).

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