Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon

The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon
Published by Voice ISBN 978-1401341503
Trade paperback, $14.99
Charlotte Bacon's The Twisted Thread started out so strong for me. The story of a popular teen girl found dead in her room at the prestigious Armitage boarding school, and the mystery of how she died and who took her newborn baby had so much potential, with writing that was so perceptive, such as this:
"Being responsible for the transmission of American literature to four classes of intelligent, slouching adolescents sometimes struck Madeline as a task more ludicrous than ending dependence on foreign oil."
and
"She hated this sensation, the knowledge, only half-admitted most of the time, that the world could crack wide at any moment, and that you would never, despite wit, fiscal prudence, or luck be entirely prepared for what might happen next."
I liked the characters of Madeline, the young teacher at the school and Matt, a police officer who attended Armitage years ago. I also liked Matt's cop partner, Vernon, the formerly-overweight, now-health-conscious family man. If the story had focused on these characters and the mystery of what happened to the dead girl, it would have been a pretty good book.

Unfortunately, the author introduces too many characters, along with their back stories, which instead of deepening the plot, at times took away from it and confused me. There is the maintenance man, his mother, his boss, many, many teachers at the school, and a clique of mean girls. It was hard to keep characters straight, and many times I had to stop and ask myself, "wait- who is this again?"

There were too many subplots that went nowhere. As I got to the end of the story, some of the threads came together and the resolution was ultimately satisfying, but the author would have had a much better book if she concentrated on only a few of the voices. She had a lot to say about privilege, class, family and the culture of private schools, but it sometimes got drowned out by too much noise.

rating 3 of 5 stars
 

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