Crooked

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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 ...
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1999 Hard cover Good. Go green, recycle! Book may have wear from reading, may contain some library markings. Library binding. Cloth over boards. 352 p. Intended for a juvenile ... audience. Intended for a young adult/teenage audience. Read more Show Less

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Crooked

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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.

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: 9780679993001
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 352
  • Age range: 14 - 16 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.79 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 1.16 (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

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(20)

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(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • 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 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 October 6, 2003

    Stacey Morris who is a fanatic reader!!

    I loved this book. It was not fake like the others I use to. It dealt with issues most people in mine and Clara's and Amos's world face. I reccomed this to 13-18 years old especially.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2003

    Alright book

    This book was alright. The conversations were unrealistic, as was the slang. The kids were supposed to be older, yet talked much younger. The storyline was pretty good, but I just had major issues believing the conversations.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2002

    Outstanding

    This book was SO good, I could never put it down! All the supsense kept me going! It is was of my top favorite books and will always remain at the top!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2002

    Best book ever!

    If u are tired of those boring teen books that are sooo unrealistic read this one! It will keep u reading for days on end. I have gotten all my friends to read this book...they all love it! I still can't beleive this book has only 5 other reviews!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2001

    Crooked- Tom McNeal

    This book really did it for me. It was a great book, and none of that sappy book stuff they expect teenagers to read. It's real and not so fake. It brings out the real world. I wish they would write more books!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2001

    LOVED IT. Great for teens.

    This book is great. All teenagers should read it. I couldn't put it down. I have trouble finding books that I really enjoy. It was just amazing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2000

    This is a great book!

    I just finished ninth grade and picked up this book - it was very, very good. I finished it in one day. I read A LOT and this one is high on my list. I can't wait until the McNeals' write another novel!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2000

    The Best Book for Young Teens To Read In A Long Time

    This book is the bomb diggity! I loved it and i'm 13! Great job! You truely know what you're doing!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 1999

    CROOKED ANNOUNCED THE BEST TEENAGE BOOK!

    The book was very intresting. It had a good laid out plot. It also had excellent charictars. The story is possible in teen life, and thats why I like it. I recommend this book to all teenagers. Last, I like it because it has two points of view.

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    Posted February 8, 2009

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    Posted February 10, 2011

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    Posted October 25, 2010

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    Posted March 1, 2009

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    Posted June 10, 2009

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    Posted March 15, 2010

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 33 Customer Reviews

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