Maybe I'll decide I have a life story, too, and I'll reveal some of it.
The good girl, the jock, the beautiful one, and the geek. Tangle them together, and the unexpected happens.
Jena, Dakota, Skye, and Owen are all in Paradise. When they meet, they have no idea how they will all connect—or that their chance encounters will transform each of their lives.
The secrets we keep, the risks we take, and the things we do for love: Four months after it all begins in Paradise, none of them will ever be the same.
From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up—Four teenagers, Jena, Skye, Owen, and Dakota, come together and cross paths during a vacation in the Caribbean. A quarter of the book is devoted to each teen's perspective. Jena tells about her feelings of inferiority when around beautiful Skye, the daughter of her mother's best friend. Skye wants to figure out the truth about her father and the suicidal depression that turns her away from auditioning for even one more film. Dakota drinks, is sexually pushy with girls, and deals with his girlfriend's death in a car accident when she was with another guy. Owen, Dakota's younger brother, hides his insecurity behind the safety of his blog and general computer nerdiness. All four lives become "tangled" together while at the resort and after they reach home, and the way the tangles twist and unfold allows these teens to discover their true selves and find personal satisfaction. Mackler expertly creates believable characters, plots, and settings. The teens are good people who have obstacles to overcome and problems to face. Whether realizing it directly or not, they help one another because of their chance relationships. As powerfully depicted as in Emily Wing Smith's The Way He Lived (Flux, 2008), the various viewpoints weave together to create a compelling and cohesive whole. Themes of understanding, respecting others, and the power of good communication are carefully and effectively woven throughout a story that begs for discussion.—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO
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Mackler, whose previous titles include the Printz Honor Book The Earth, My Butt, and Other Round Things (2003), introduces another cast of memorable, authentic young characters in her latest heartfelt novel. Four teens share the narration of the cleverly constructed story, which begins at a five-star Caribbean resort, where two mothers have thrown together their very different teen daughters. Jena, a Westchester County high-schooler, is her own worst critic. She worries about her weight, powders her zits until her face resembles “a funnel cake,” and marvels at her companion, Skye, a gorgeous, wealthy young actress in Manhattan. Jena spots lanky computer geek Owen, but she ends up fooling around with his brother, Dakota, a beer-swilling jock who dumps her when Skye shows interest. The often-hilarious story, which takes place over a four-month period, builds in poignant layers as each character narrates in a fresh, frank voice that defies stereotype. Although the teens’ tech-heavy communication is utterly contemporary, their insecurities, desires, and questions about family, self-worth, and first love are timeless. Grades 9-12. --Gillian Engberg