3.3 6
by Louisa Luna

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Melody is just out of prison. Faced with the absence of her brother, who's serving life in San Quentin, and hardened by her own experiences in lock-up, Mel sturggles to adjust to the harsh realities of life on the outside. She quickly discovers that freeedom is relative...she has no money, no prospects, no guidance. Forced to return to her mother's apartment in

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Melody is just out of prison. Faced with the absence of her brother, who's serving life in San Quentin, and hardened by her own experiences in lock-up, Mel sturggles to adjust to the harsh realities of life on the outside. She quickly discovers that freeedom is relative...she has no money, no prospects, no guidance. Forced to return to her mother's apartment in Marin County and take a job houling portable toilets, Mel finds herself drinking too much and hanging out with her old gang again. Haunted by glimpses of her own harrowing girlhood and of the mysterious circumstances that put her in prison in the first place, she slowly, bravely begins to forge a potential path toward redemption and escape.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Luna's second novel is a crisply written, incisive story about a violent, troubled young woman struggling to rebuild her life and come to terms with her crime after being released from a California prison. As the novel opens, protagonist Melody Booth has just finished a three-year sentence for her role in a brutal murder engineered by her brother, Gary, but life seems promising when her mother takes her in to help her get back on her feet. Booth immediately makes a series of bad decisions, though, beginning with her career choice: she takes a marginal job delivering portable toilets. On the personal side, her first mistake is getting involved with her brother's friend, Chick Rodriguez, a drug runner and heavy user, and before long Melody is drinking, carousing and slipping back into her old "bad girl" ways. Her downward spiral bottoms out when Chick disappears and she tracks him down at the San Francisco house of his dealer, only to arrive just in time to get in trouble with the law again when he overdoses. Luna spends a good portion of the novel delving into Melody's refusal to visit her imprisoned brother, and while many of those passages are effective, the siblings' ultimate meeting proves to be anticlimactic. But the remaining material leading up to Melody's downfall is solid, despite the ongoing presence of several prison-novel clich s. Overall, Luna has done a service by telling a familiar story from a woman's perspective, and this novel represents a sound follow-up to her success with Brave New Girl. (May) Forecast: Twenty-seven-year-old Luna knows her target readers, since she's just a few years older than they are. Her sophomore effort is grittier than her debut, but its readability and its modest paperback price, ideal for the reader with an allowance remain about the same. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Mel Booth and her twin brother Gary were brought up by a single mother who brought home men who varied from ineffectual to extremely dangerous. The kids never got enough healthy adult attention, or food, and developed as wildlings as they reached adolescence. Now just past 21, Mel has been released from a California penitentiary for women; Gary is serving a life sentence in San Quentin. As she did in Brave New Girl (2000), Luna provides an incisive character portrait of a troubled young female, but Mel is older, more hard-bitten and brazen than was Luna's first protagonist. Mel comes home to Marin County with her mother, takes up with the drug-addled peers she and Gary once called friends, and gets a parole-arranged job delivering portable sanitary waste units. Narrating her own story, Mel comes across as intelligent, insightful about those for whom she feels some sympathy (including herself), crude, and absolutely fearless. The story behind her imprisonment is revealed slowly, not because she's holding it back as a surprise, but because it isn't what's of primary interest to her in the present. Generation X readers will recognize folks they once knew who now seem to have disappeared from their daily lives...or whom, depressingly, they may have become in the years since high school's peer-correct period of alienation. Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students and adults. 2002, Pocket Books, MTV, 310p., , Berkeley, CA
Kirkus Reviews
A second sizzler about marginalized outcasts follows Luna's scalding but artful debut Brave New Girl (not reviewed) and falls in line with this publisher's paperback stable of brilliantly trashy gutter novelists. Old master James M. Cain would smile to his ear canals at Luna's opening: "My mother picked me up in Holding and smelled like baby powder and Vaseline lotion when she hugged me." Hardened but underweight young Melody Booth is paroled from prison after three years. White and seemingly allergic to sunlight, she hasn't eaten meat in two and a half of those years and tosses her first hamburger in the restroom of a fast-food stop ("My cuticles were white and raw, nails bitten down, skin flaking off my fingertips like paint"). Though she's a high school graduate, Mel turns down an office job offered by her parole officer and hires on manhandling smelly, sloshy port-a-potties, falls in with bad old buddy Chick Rodriguez, and sucks down six-packs. Living with her mother in Mill Valley, she sorely misses her brother Gary, who's doing life at San Quentin—but she doesn't want to see him. Did mother's heavy abuse lead to her kids' hard times? Mother's changed for the better but is still a fake-pearls, lip-gloss airhead with a cleanliness mania. Memories of bad days at Staley pop up and hurt: being held down as a razor cuts the word juera into her arm and later slices fine lines in her vagina. And she gets her rib stove in. Why did she do three and Gary get life? The answer hangs over the novel. A hint: mother's lover slaps Mel into the garbage; three years later, it's payback. That crazy Gary. But that's all, you know, like, cool, right? Sure. No blue skies here. Cold-bladed realism that"gets all the little pink muscles moving under [your] skin." And dialogue to die for.

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Crooked 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
There are people in the world who cannot think before they act because the conditions of their lives won't permit it. They are forced to react endlessly, forced to defend themselves -- these sort of people are the subjects of Crooked. Melody is an ex-convict who seems incapable of adjusting to the outside, and yet she tries to make the very most of her freedom until, ultimately, she discovers she has none at all. This is a great book with a deep existentialist meaning. You can feel the characters struggling against eachother, against their environment, and against themselves. It's way out of the league of MTV Books' typical audience, though, so people who are attuned to a hyperactive, strongly cinematic (i.e., traditionally narrative and cliche-filled) aesthetic will be confused or bored. People who enjoy literature, however, will be introduced to a sharp and relentless voice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i started this book, i had high hopes for it. the beginning kept you turning the pages waiting for somthing to happen. but after that, it was a bit of a let-down. maybe i missed somthing important, but it wasnt that great of a book. it was below the standard of the mtv reading list books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I understand that this book was supposed to target urban youths; and with it's hip, street smart prison parolee for a main character, it did just that. However, the story itself didn't seem to have any specific destination. What was the point of it? A 22 year old female parolee who gets out of prison after committing a sensless murder with her twin brother who is serving a life sentence. She is forced to move in with her mother, take up a menial paying job and soons starts to run with the wrong crowd again, her old gang. However, the story has no direction, the main character has no goals, no aspirations, good or bad. It just seems to drag, mostly shifting from the main character's day to day life outside of prison, and sensless flashbacks. In a sense, you kind of get the feeling as if you are reading someone's journal, not a novel. I would not recommend buying this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If her target audience is supposed to be teenagers and twenty somethings I'm not sure she has hit her mark. Frankly we are not all as dumb as we look. As I came to the last sentance I couldn't help but wonder if I had missed something maybe skipped over half the novel. Don't get me wrong it was a valiant effort and I did finish it but a little uncertain on where the author was going.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book left a searing impression on me -- Luna's use of language is incredibly powerful, straightforward, and virtually devoid of metaphor. Her characters are complex, haunting, conflicted, vulnerable, but hard. She is a true poet of the West Coast working class. The descriptions of prison and parole are so vivid I wouldn't be surprised if she'd been inside.