Roberts’ debut novel takes us along on a teen girl’s journey to find herself while dealing with traditional, and somewhat unusual, travails of high school.
When Sadie leaves behind her Catholic academy and begins her new school in the heart of a rich Southern suburb, her goal is to become herself, whoever that might be. Her mother warns her to fit in, but Sadie rebels on her first day, choosing to wear a ballerina-type outfit that she believes defines her. Within moments, other kids target Sadie as an outcast. Dubbed Twigo, her academic life quickly descends into a nightmare of brutal bullying and hostility. It isn’t until she finds unexpected romance with a star football player and discovers an ally in the president of the math club that things start to turn around. Twigo’s tentative foray into friendship with an assortment of traumatized but courageous souls makes a strong statement about the beneficial psychological effects of loyalty, particularly when facing vicious teasing and prejudice. Roberts holds nothing back in his depiction of harassment that can turn deadly, including portraying parents who encourage their children to victimize other kids. As Twigo tries to sort out her emotions and deal with the pressure of her religious upbringing, she must find her path and define who she is on her own terms. The secondary characters—Twigo’s dance teacher, her friends, the other football players and her family—are layered individuals who help direct Twigo’s self-discovery. Although the teenager’s experience with harassment and friendship is compelling, the introduction of Russian arms dealers, undercover federal agents and international drug rings at the end of the story feels especially gratuitous.
A vivid look at bullying, first love and inner resilience—with undercover feds.