Unraveling by Michelle Baldini and Lynn Biederman (July 8th 2008—Delacorte)
Grade: 3 stars out of 5
Summary: “THE SMART THING Is to Prepare for the Unexpected.
So reads the fortune cookie fortune that Amanda receives at the beginning of her family’s vacation to Florida. Amanda knows all about preparing for the unexpected—her mother, whom she calls The Captain, is always hard on Amanda, and it’s just when Amanda lets her guard down that the very worst comes through. Looking for acceptance, Amanda turns her attention to boys, and doing whatever she can to be popular at school. That includes making out with the gorgeous senior Rick in his car after school—even though he has a girlfriend. And when Rick offers her The Deal—a real, official date to the Homecoming in front of everyone, in exchange for her virginity—Amanda jumps at the chance. But no matter how you try to prepare for the unexpected, sometimes you can’t.”
Review: First things first: this book is for the mature audience! There is sex!
Secondly, the actual review. Personally, some of the contents reminded me a lot of Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky. I only say this because it was about the physical aspect of a relationship, it was about friendship, and it was about family.
Unlike Anatomy, Unraveling showed the darker side to sex. It could be used to hurt someone, to take advantage of someone, losing it and regretting it.
Amanda has the self-confidence that needs help and she believes that by doing it with someone they will love her. No, she is not a slut nor is she tramp, because of the fact that she realizes what she truly lost and how she regrets that decision. This book is a modern take of the teenage life—sex is not part of love. We speak of love as a transparent being easily disposed of or shifted to what we please. “I love you, now do this for me. I want you so much.” The phrase “I love you” can be as causally spoken as the word “bitch” or “fuck”, so what is the issue with sex? You tell me, as I am blatantly aware as to what my peers say--some of which I am disgusted at the talk. This is what Unraveling forces me to think. Does any one regret their decision as a mistake as Amanda did? Or is this just part of human nature—live and learn?
So what goes through Amanda’s mind that by doing it with that person, they will love her? Family troubles. People always say that they will never be like their parents, but how often nor not does that truly happen? It is embedded within us. That was the case with Amanda’s mother. So it was to be expected that the constant belittling, scolds and yells from her, makes Amanda feel this way. Who wouldn’t? We are talking about family dynamics, family issues, and family pressure that makes one crack underneath the surface. We turn to the false promises and half-spoken truth to cheer us up.
Friendship can be another life raft. They are what float us from drowning in misery. They help us, advise us, and concern themselves for us. Unraveling shows us this as Amanda journeys through this entire process.
So this is the essence of Unraveling. Life, coming undone from life. Bit by bit we lose ourselves in life and we are finally left with something we can grow, to be proud of, to take matters into our own hands and roll the dices.
My major compliant would be the disjointedness in some scenes. The mother and daughter relationship starts out rocky, then goes through a jungle, and comes out as a butterfly. The transition was too fast, jumping abruptly from the jungle to the butterfly stage. And because this was a first person point of view the actual scenes can differ. Was the mother really that horrid? Was Amanda exaggerating? Also, Amanda read her mother’s personal emails to her close friend, some of which was about her. Amanda’s mother believes she is trying to help her, acting more kindly towards her than what Amanda says, so why did she not return those attempts back to the mother? It was a lot of blame passed around and not much action to prevent this.
Overall: A hefty read for such a small book. It was more of the thoughts it provoked that appealed to me. The actual book reminded me of something trying a bit too hard at times.