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Parker Prescott is a middle child. She?s the good one, the dependable one, the one her parents trust. Well . . . she used to be.
Parker Prescott?s parents want her to break up with her boyfriend. But she already did, two weeks ago. And then she ...
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Parker Prescott is a middle child. She’s the good one, the dependable one, the one her parents trust. Well . . . she used to be.
Parker Prescott’s parents want her to break up with her boyfriend. But she already did, two weeks ago. And then she realized it was a mistake. He came over. He had the handcuffs in his pocket. Everything went downhill from there. Sort of.
Parker Prescott’s world is changing and she no longer knows who she is. Does anyone?
From the Hardcover edition.
Gr 9 Up
Parker, 16, is the quiet, reserved middle child between little Preston and golden girl Paige. So why is her ex-boyfriend unbuttoning her blouse and handcuffing her in her father's study? Her parents walk in, ground her for life, and it all ends up on her ex-best-friend's blog. The real problem, though, is Parker's attachment to the boy. Character development is excellent, especially of the family. The descriptions of Parker's ADHD brother are humorous yet tender, her mother is uptight but not a caricature, and Paige insults Parker as only an older sister can. The teen's voice, too, is natural and steady. The ex-boyfriend, unfortunately, is flat in comparison. Though the point may be that Parker's obsession has more to do with her insecurities than his charms, their lack of chemistry fails to drive the plot or engage readers. The side plots, about Paige's alcoholism, a stalking neighbor, and the family's money troubles, are much more interesting. Still, Parker's sexual candor is refreshing; she states her desires in a way usually reserved for male protagonists. The author describes the new-media gossip mill and insular suburbia convincingly. There's a lot going on in Handcuffs , but Griffin manages to tie the strings together clearly and cleverly to a satisfying conclusion.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Let me start over.
My mom runs out of the room crying.
Um, let me start over.
My mom gets up from the couch, lets out a little gaspy sob, the kind that lets you know someone is crying even when they aren’t doing the big boo-hoo routine. She wipes her eyes, violently, like she’s going to fling the teardrops away, pushes her hair back from her tear-streaked face, looks at my father, looks at me, and then she exits the room.
My dad glares at me like I’m the Antichrist and gets up to follow her. Leaving me there on the couch holding my Christmas stocking, wearing my dorkariffic red pajamas, surrounded by wrapping paper and crisp white boxes with carefully folded sweaters in tissue paper.
The door doesn’t even slam. It makes a little dink-dink sound. Then it’s quiet except for the blam, blam, blam of the television as Miracle Child test-drives his new video game. Blam, blam, blam, ka-pow!
The key is still in my hand. I imagine throwing it across the room, breaking a window with the force of my rage and disappointment. I imagine letting it drop from my nerveless dead fingers with an anticlimactic clink as it hits the glass coffee table. I picture the guilt as my parents lean over my coffin and see that I am still clutching the key in a death grip, my fist wrapped around it, my fingernails painted to match the plush purple velour of the lining.
I am the one who should be crying. I am the one who should be running out of the room, with people chasing me and trying to console me. I am not a terrible ungrateful little bitch. Usually. In this case, I got set up.
Let me start over.
It really, actually happened like this.
“Look, look at all the presents!” Preston, my ultrahyper brother, sprinted down the hallway. The Christmas tree rocked back and forth as he dove headfirst into the heap of gifts.
We’ve done Christmas morning the exact same way forever and ever. The week before Christmas, the sibs and I put our gifts for Mom and Dad and for each other under the tree. I wasn’t truly expecting much from my brother and sister. Little brother shopped at the grocery store with a ten-dollar bill Dad gave him. That made my share of the loot two dollars and fifty cents’ worth of grocery store–bought lip gloss or Cheetos or whatever seemed like a good present to him. Now, my sister—well, let’s just say my birthday present still hasn’t been delivered. She thinks I’m dumb enough to wait patiently for my box from Amazon.com, and I have, but so far, nothing.
Christmas morning is supposed to be about wonder. After we go to sleep, my parents put out all the big presents, piles and piles of them in every shape and size. Even though we’re all too big to believe in Santa, and have been for years, my heart still missed a few beats when I went downstairs and saw the tree and all the glittering gifts underneath.
Even if we were still young enough to believe in magic, I doubt we could after the year we’ve had. Another reason Christmas now sucks is that sweaters and shoes aren’t really thrilling; it’s not like it was when I was little and I got a heap of toys that I’d been putting on my Amazon wish list since September. This year I was supposed to get a new computer, a gorgeous little refurbished notebook from Dad’s work. I guess that’s out of the question now that Dad no longer has a job. On top of all that, my sister didn’t show. I don’t like things to change. I like tradition. She won’t be coming over for dinner, either, because her rich in-laws guilted her into abandoning us. You’d think Mom would have cried about that, and you might imagine that Paige would be the official Christmas traitor, but no. Not quite.
“Parker, catch!” Preston lobbed a present right at my head.
“Honey, honey, some of these might be breakable.” Mom hadn’t put in her contacts, so she was squinting through this old pair of glasses that sit crooked on the end of her nose.
My brother stopped throwing the parcels and began to sort them, making neat piles in front of each of us, with a pile for Paige, too. Skipping out on Christmas does not mean you don’t get any gifts. No way.
The heaps weren’t as big as when we were kids and you could be buried under an avalanche of dolls and puzzles and games, but they weren’t shabby, either. We went back and forth opening, and it got weird taking turns because there are usually three of us in a circle.
Preston happily ripped into his video games and racked up an addition to his already-superb collection of athletic shoes. I got mostly clothes. Some I loved, some I would never wear. My mom thinks she gets my style, but she’s usually a few steps behind. She’s always trying to buy me things with plaid or flower prints. She says I should wear bright colors while I’m young. But I like basic jeans and solid- colored T-shirts and classic sweaters. Maybe a cute oxford with stripes. I mostly just like to blend in.
Some of the excitement disappears when you stop getting toys. And I’m not one for showing lots of emo- tion. Some people—well, mainly my sister—say I’m an ice princess. But my lack of visible excitement isn’t that terrible because my brother jumps up and down and makes enough noise for both of us. Still, I couldn’t keep from worrying that my parents, the way they were watching me, wanted something more.
From the Hardcover edition.
Posted January 29, 2009
I have to put a disclaimer at the beginning of this review. I went into reading the book expecting something totally different. I believe if I either a) didn't know what the book was about or b) had a better understanding of the synopsis prior to starting it, I would have appreciated the story far more. From the first blurb I caught of the story, I actually expected it to be more of a hostage storyline. I was way off base. <BR/><BR/>Parker Prescott is the middle child. Her older sister is the perfect, popular Paige. Her younger brother, Preston, is the hyperactive one. Parker has always been the quiet, responsible one. That is until the day her parents find her and her ex-boyfriend in a compromising position. <BR/><BR/>But Parker's problems started before that day. Her father has lost his job and now the family is struggling financially. The for-sale sign in the front of the house troubles Parker. And on Christmas, when she gets a key in her stocking, she's angry at her parents because it's not a car for her, just the use of her father's Jeep. Her sister Paige was given a car, a huge "Sweet 16" party, an elaborate wedding - things they no longer have money for. <BR/><BR/>Parker has broken up with her boyfriend (and for the life of me, I can't find a single mention of his name in the book!) but goes running to his place after the key incident on Christmas. Parker had broken up with him for her own reasons. He wasn't cheating on her; he defends her when others would pick on her, what's not to love about him? <BR/><BR/>When he comes over one day after Christmas with the handcuffs, Parker gives in. He handcuffs her to her father's desk chair and slowly starts to remove her shirt. Of course this is when her parents come home early and catch them. They kick the ex-boyfriend out and ground Parker. <BR/><BR/>The story goes back and forth with Parker and her ex-boyfriend. Parker struggles with what she wants as she deals with the issues going on at home. As the money problems get progressively worse, Parker comes up with a way to help pay for the mortgage, at least. She keeps it hidden from her family but it all comes to a head when the cops show up and remove her computer. <BR/><BR/>There's so much going on with HANDCUFFS that it's more than just Parker and a compromising situation. Her sister is having marital problems. Her parents are trying to keep their head above water. Her sister's stalker's restraining order is due to expire. Her best friend, Raye, is pining over an ex-boyfriend. And always, there's Parker and her mixed-up emotions over her ex-boyfriend. <BR/><BR/>As you can see, this is so much more involved than what I originally expected the story to be when I first picked it up. It's a very intense and deep look at a two-month period in the life of Parker Prescott and her family. The story unravels at a nice pace, allowing the reader to discover all the different layers of Parker's life. Though the premise is risqué sounding, the actual story is not overtly sexy. It's the normal struggle of a young girl coming to terms with her own sexuality, among other life lessons.
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