In a charming if sometimes over-the-top small-town drama, Madeline “Twigs” Henry navigates family secrets, boyfriend troubles and a friendship with a spirited older woman.
Twigs, given her nickname because of her small size at birth, works at a drug store under the supervision of a foul-tempered slacker named Dink. While running the store by herself, she encounters Helen Raymond, a middle-aged woman whose dramatic reaction to her husband’s leaving her involves wailing in an aisle and throwing bottles of hair dye. Twigs’ own family circumstances are becoming complicated: Her brother, a soldier stationed in Iraq, goes missing, and her father, an alcoholic who abandoned the family, contacts Twigs and her mother and sister. Twigs therefore finds comfort and empowerment in connecting with Helen. The larger-than-life characters and gestures bring humor and action to the story, but sometimes, they are too exaggerated to be believed. A professor at Twigs’ community college is cartoonishly strict, and Twigs’ willingness to physically assault Helen’s husband and continually refer to his new girlfriend as “his whore” feels oddly out of proportion to the situation. Still, Twigs is a compellingly flawed character, and as her family situation and relationship with her college-freshman boyfriend change, Twigs’ growth is palpable.
Like many of its characters, imperfect but earnest. (Fiction. 14-18)