Crooked

Crooked

4.3 33
by Laura McNeal, Tom McNeal
     
 

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Clara Wilson has a lot on her mind. Her best friend, Gerri, has started moving in circles that will never in a million years include Clara and her crooked nose. Clara's parents are fighting again, and her mom keeps talking about teaching in France. At least Clara still has Hambone, her loyal dog. And her crush on Amos McKenzie, of course.

Amos McKenzie doesn't… See more details below

Overview

Clara Wilson has a lot on her mind. Her best friend, Gerri, has started moving in circles that will never in a million years include Clara and her crooked nose. Clara's parents are fighting again, and her mom keeps talking about teaching in France. At least Clara still has Hambone, her loyal dog. And her crush on Amos McKenzie, of course.

Amos McKenzie doesn't much like home these days. His dad's corny questions are bugging him more than usual, and his mom's gone religious for no apparent reason. On top of that, he's starting to fall for a major dink, Clara Wilson. And as it turns out, he's not the only one...

The Tripp Brothers are the biggest delinquents in town. They smash mailboxes, shoplift groceries, and cruise around in their Seduck (half sedan, half truck). They've just turned their sights on the school's newest, cutest couple. And that can only mean one thing for Clara and Amos: danger.

Clara and Amos—their lives turned upside down by each other, their families, and the two meanest brothers in town—discover that honesty may be the answer...but it can be awfully hard to find. In this emotionally compelling and suspenseful young adult novel, Laura and Tom McNeal present a searingly accurate look at life in ninth grade—where thrills, heartbreak, and intimidation can take place at a locker, in the lunchroom, or in a bathroom stall.

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Editorial Reviews

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:
9780679893004
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date:
11/01/1999
Pages:
346
Product dimensions:
5.86(w) x 8.54(h) x 1.19(d)
Lexile:
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 15 Years

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