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Crooked

( 33 )

Overview

A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
A California Book Award Winner for Juvenile Literature
An ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults
A Booklist Top Ten Youth Romance

Clara Wilson and Amos MacKenzie are finding their lives turned upside down: by each other, by fickle friendships, by failing families, and by the two meanest brothers in town. As the pressures ...

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Crooked

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Overview

A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
A California Book Award Winner for Juvenile Literature
An ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults
A Booklist Top Ten Youth Romance

Clara Wilson and Amos MacKenzie are finding their lives turned upside down: by each other, by fickle friendships, by failing families, and by the two meanest brothers in town. As the pressures of high school and home life collide, Clara and Amos struggle to maintain their identities amid the chaos. Honesty may be the answer...but it can be awfully hard to find.

Two ninth graders, Clara and Amos, suddenly find their lives turned upside down by their families, by each other, and by the two meanest brothers in town.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Clara Wilson has a crooked nose. It bothers her. She fusses with it in the mirror. She thinks about plastic surgery. She touches it all of the time. Her nose doesn't bother Amos Mackenzie. He thinks she is pretty. And he will tell her so, in due time.

Crooked is the story of how Clara and Amos, both ninth-graders, get together, but it is so much more than that. During the time Clara and Amos make their way slowly toward each other, both are learning how to deal with adult problems. First, Clara's best friend dumps her, stops returning her phone calls, and starts bad-mouthing her around school. Then Clara's mother leaves home, and her father begins to date. On top of all of that, home alone one night, she narrowly escapes a dangerous situation when the thuggish brother of a friend she trusts tries to assault her. Things aren't much better for Amos. He gets in a bad accident because he tries to stop the neighborhood bullies (the very same thugs) from damaging property, which immediately makes him a school hero and, in turn, immediately teaches him the perils of popularity. The bullies continue to mess with him, paralyzing him with fear and eventually forcing him to learn how to stand up for himself. On top of all of that, Amos unexpectedly loses a parent.

It may sound melodramatic, but Crooked doesn't read that way. It reads beautifully and quickly. These are far from ordinary teenagers, and Crooked is far from an ordinary teen love story. Absent are all of the usual Beverly Hills 90210 cliches. Sure, there are the occasional popular rich girls with their nice sweaters and parentless mansions, but instead of being cool, these girls are portrayed in an unflattering light. One "hot" girl vomits fruity brandy all over her carpet and just expects the maid to clean it up. She isn't cool; she is pathetic. And Amos thinks so, too. Jocks, often portrayed as harsh frat-boy types in teen books, become Amos's mentors, helping him through bad times, offering advice and even shelter.

There are no typical obsessive teen talks about sports or trips to the mall in Crooked. Instead, there is an unusual element of reality. Both Clara and Amos come from families with money problems: Amos's mother is a waitress, his father delivers milk. Clara's family has trouble making ends meet. On top of her daily paper route, Clara starts her own business -- shoveling driveways and fetching groceries for an elderly neighborhood woman -- to make enough money to send herself to horse camp. But authors Laura and Tom McNeal don't allow money or death or anything else to make Amos or Clara bitter. Their problems don't take over their lives. They still manage long phone conversations, letters, notes in lockers, hand-holding, kisses. All of that good first-love stuff. There are misunderstandings and times when it looks like it won't work out between the two. Then Amos introduces Clara to his carrier pigeons, and Clara introduces Amos to her dog.

Amos and Clara are two complex, interesting young adults taking on whatever life has to offer and fighting back. And they still manage to fall for each other. How refreshing.

—Alexandra Zissu

Horn Book Magazine
Clara Wilson's normal life is changing: her best friend dumps her for a more popular group, and her parents' marriage is clearly in trouble. Then one day, her mother walks out on her department-store job and doesn't return home, leaving Clara and her father to fend for themselves. Across town, Amos Mackenzie, who's in ninth grade with Clara, also finds his comfortably familiar life changing around him. His father makes frequent visits to the doctor for an undisclosed illness, and his mother has suddenly become religious. When Amos inadvertently interrupts bad boys Charles and Eddie Tripp in an act of vandalism, he wins a gash in the head from the brutal Charles and becomes an overnight hero. Amidst the swirl of events, a mutual crush between Amos and Clara begins to grow, despite perpetual hindrances such as Amos's newfound popularity; his old friend Bruce, master of the prank phone call; and competition for Clara's affections by none other than Eddie Tripp. Clara is both scared and excited by the dangerously charming Eddie, who seems not-quite-so threatening as his older brother Charles. But the danger proves all too real in a terrifying climax that reveals everyone's true nature. Set during the dark winter days in a small town, Crooked explores both commonly accepted cruelties and vicious criminality, yet the tangibl yearning and imprefect goodness of both protagonists prevents the novel itself from succumbing to darkness. The crooked slope of Clar's nose---"the thing [she] worried most about....before everything stopped being normal"---dwindles in significance as both she and Amos bravely face their fears and stand up for themselves. The strands of their stories are cleverly intertwined in this well-plotted and engaging novel.
Children's Literature - Scott S. Floyd
Clara Wilson has a crooked nose. She notices it more than anyone does. It troubles her almost as much as her parents' fighting. Amos MacKenzie has a crooked life. His mother has him baptized on a whim, he gets beat up and turned into a hero for it, and his milkman father dies during an operation. The two Tripp brothers are just crooked. They are the epitome of meanness. Felony is their middle name. Their main goal in life is to live so that they wreak havoc on everyone else. Now Clara and Amos are in their sights. All four of these characters become entangled in a suspenseful story that is bound to keep the reader going until the end. This novel has the makings of a truly masterful juvenile thriller. The writing style is gripping. I believe that the thing that might keep it out of school libraries is the sexual content; more exactly, the near rape scene. As much as enjoyed the story line, I highly recommend its care in placing this book in students' hands due to the mature content.
Library Journal
Gr 6-10-In this fine first novel set in upstate New York, two ordinary teens navigate the complicated, sometimes scary world they inhabit. Clara Wilson, 14, has a crooked nose, a best friend who deserts her, and parents who argue all the time. When her mother accepts a teaching job in Spain, Clara feels abandoned and resentful. Fellow ninth-grader Amos MacKenzie has parents who embarrass him, and keep secrets from him. He enjoys a newfound popularity after being attacked by the town bad boys, Charles and Eddie Tripp, but is lost and confused when his father unexpectedly dies following exploratory surgery. His budding relationship with Clara is his only consolation. When the Tripp brothers vow revenge on Amos for reporting them to the police, he and Clara face intimidation, which draws them even closer together. In a dramatic climax, the Tripps break into her house and corner her in the attic. The McNeals' recognition of the angst of junior high with its fickle friendships, bullies, and first love make their novel one that mirrors real life. The characters' actions and reactions ring true as they try to cope with all of the changes that life has dealt them and still maintain a grasp on who they are. For most of the novel, the story is told from the alternating viewpoints of the two main characters, but in the climactic final chapters, their voices become blended. Readers will come away knowing that even though their paths have taken some unexpected twists and turns, these young people are on a straight and sure course.-Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375841910
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/8/2007
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 523,813
  • Age range: 12 - 16 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura McNeal is a freelance journalist and former English teacher. Tom McNeal
is the critically acclaimed author of many short stories and the adult novel Goodnight, Nebraska, winner of the 1999 James A. Michener Memorial Prize. The McNeals are married and live in Fallbrook, California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 33 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 68 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2004

    The Best Book

    I love this book. I thought it was just awesome. I've read it like 25 times. There's something about it that gets me hooked everytime I read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2011

    awesome!

    i just finished reading this and i loved it! it was suspenseful, made my heart race, and made me want to cry at some parts. loved getting to get into both charecters heads instead of just the one. amazing!

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  • Posted January 7, 2010

    Dramatic, intense, an overall good read

    Crooked, by both Laura and Tom McNeal, is a novel about the lives of Clara Wilson and
    Amos McKenzie, and the drama of high school. When Clara's best friend begins to start hanging out with the "popular crowd", and her mother moves across the Atlantic Ocean, Clara feels as if she has nothing left. Then she meets Amos, who seems to be the one good thing in her life. But when he also begins becoming more popular, and it seems like everyone is moving on with their lives but Clara, she feels even more left out. When Amos tries to stop the neighborhood bullies, Charles and Eddie Tripp, he ends up taking a blow to the head with a baseball bat. That is when his rise to popularity begins, but with the death of his father, his popularity goes even higher, at possibly the worst possible time. Crooked describes the daily troubles of the average high school student, and show what they have to go through every day. This book is a memorable account of typical high school drama, simple as that. There are the clichéd characters: bully, jock, popular girl, unpopular girl who becomes popular, etc. I would recommend this book to students from ages 12 to 15.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    A GREAT READ!

    I liked this book a lot, when I started reading it, it was very hard to put down. What a creative way to show what great way to show what could happen between a small town boy and a small town girl with all that is happening around them. The twist that is added makes it even better! Two thumbs up for the McNeals!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2008

    one of the most emotionaly intense books i've read

    this book i must say was amazing!!! i didn't know exactly what i was getting when i picked it up and bought it i just thought it was wierd cuz of the old style milk bottle on the cover. i've read this book over many times and marked my favorite pages it's an intense look at the world of clara and amos two teens who have feelings for eachother but are to afraid to tell eachother clara is not popular or well liked and her family is falling apart when her mother get up and randomly leaves early from work and then decides to go off to a different country to live and amos' family situation isn't any better as he's father becomes ill and attends frequent hospital vists and as a result of all this his mother has turned into a big time religous person and he doesn't understand what going on. then add the Trip brothers which makes things not only more complex and difficult for them both but horrifying as well i would recomend this for teens and up who can handle the intense drama this is a real page turner very good!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2008

    definite recommendation for teens

    this is one of those books where even if youve read it multiple times you still want to go back and read it again.Also the authors do a great job at making eddie so likable yet still be one of the bad guys. Overall, GO GET THIS BOOK!MOST LIKELY, YOU WILL LOVE IT!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2007

    Thrilling!

    I picked up this book because it kinda seemed alright. Boy, was I wrong! This book was fantastic beyond my wildest expectations! Clara and Amos each tell (in third person so they aren't actually telling) their own points of view. I don't want to give away too much, but I will tell you- you will be missing out if you don't read this! I flew through this book in 3 days (its a 300 some page book though) and when I took a break, I found myself wondering about the next action in the book. I can't wait to read anything else written by these two amazing authors!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2007

    A reviewer

    I read this book on a trip to Vegas... it took one and a half days to finish, its a great book for 13-15 year olds,im 17 and felt a litlle to old for it... but i still enjoyed it, my only complaint is that i would have picked the other boy the 'bad boy' i didnt like the Amos, i thought he was a little wimp... i thought it was cute how Eddie Tripp had the bad boy but secretly sweet thing going on.... well its still worth reading

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2007

    Sweet 7 #7

    This is the best book I've read so far and it is so ture to really life

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2006

    SO WICKED AWESOME

    My friend Jackie and I both loved this book. Its skips around a lot, but the end ties it all together.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2006

    This book deserves more then five stars!!!!!

    This is seriously one of my favorite books of all time!!!! I loved all the characters, expesicaly Eddie Tripp, He is in his own way one of a kind......well other then that i couldnt put this book down.......it took me less then a day to read!!!!! make sure you buy this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2006

    An awsome book-

    I loved this book, some parts were easily predicted but it still caught you by suprize. i read this book in 2 days it was very good, i loved the way it was written and how everyother chapter went from one person to another. I would strongly recomed it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2006

    Em

    This is my all time fave book! i've read it 3 whole times, and taken a highlighter to it. i'm truely in luv w/ it! suspensful and captivating! its the first book i would recommend to ANYONE! you will not be able to put it down. you'll spenmd hours awake with it open, you'll do your chores still reading it, you'll walk the dog and maybe even read it out loud, you'll bring it to the dinner table so you can finish 'just this one page'. and then once you've finished it you'll only think about it and talk about it to everyone then finally re-read it! i, obviously, LOVED this book!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2005

    Much Better then I would Have Expected

    This is a very very good book. The way it goes back and forth between characters lives and evenly intertwines them is amazing. You find yourself taking sides and feeling compassion for characters. You even start to feel bad for one of the bad guys. It kept me reading till I was finished and was a truly well written book. Its exicting but with very realistic twists and misfortunes. Heros Journey-ish...?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2005

    A Very Recommended and Good Book

    This really was a good book. It didn't deal with annoying cliches and it had a realistic spin on life. I think that it was really good book that didn't blow life out of proportion. The authors made it feel like all the expierences were happening to you. Great book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2004

    Crooked...what you've been waiting for!

    I thought this was a well written book, where any reader can relate to it. This isn't the normal 'teeny' love story, even though it is geared more towards teens. The authors make the story that much more interesting with them dealing with normal and not so normal problems that teens go through. I was able to relate to both the main characters because of their broad interests and problems they come across. This was a great book and I had a lot of trouble putting it down at the end of the night hoping to be able to read more. I recommend that anyone with a want to read a story out of the ordinary yet still believable and interesting, this book is what you've been waiting for!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2004

    Okay

    This book was okay. But i think it was interesting. I dont think its real though i would recommend it only to those who want to read something out of the ordinary. It was good though!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2004

    SO COOL

    I loved this book. i read on my way to canada and just couldnt stop reading it! it had great characters and a goos plot line

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2004

    AWSOME, LUVED IT!

    This book was great, i finished it in just 2 days. It was very suspencfull and had likable charectors. I would recomend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2004

    Best Book ever

    This is great. It only took me two days to read it! it is great. they are a great duet.they know what goes on in a teenagers mind and how they feel. it is so realistic. buy this book!!!

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 68 Customer Reviews

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