Tangled – Carolyn Mackler


Paradise wasn’t supposed to suck.

Not the state of being, but a resort in the Caribbean.

Jena, Dakota, Skye, and Owen are all there for different reasons, but at Paradise their lives become tangled together in ways none of them can predict. Paradise will change them all.

It will change Jena, whose first brush with romance takes her that much closer to having a life, and not just reading about those infinitely cooler and more exciting.

It will change Dakota, who needs the devastating truth about his past to make him realize that he doesn’t have to be a jerk just because people think he’s one.

It will change Skye, a heartbreakingly beautiful actress, who must come to terms with the fact that for once she has to stop playing a role or face the consequences.

And it will change Owen, who has never risked anything before and who will take the leap from his online life to a real one all because of a girl he met at Paradise. . . .

From confused to confident and back again, one thing’s certain: Four months after it all begins, none of them will ever be the same.

Jena is one of those girls that talks way too much when she’s nervous. Babble, babble, babble. At least that’s how she sees herself, anyway. When her mom announces that she and Jena are accompanying her friend Luce and her daughter Skye on vacation to the Caribbean, Jena’s nerves hit boiling point. Spend an entire week with Skye, prancing around in a bathing suit? Please god, no! Skye is beautiful, popular, and a successful teen actor. Her life is oh-so-glamorous compared to Jena’s, and Jena can’t help but feel like a spazz in her presence. Who wants to spend an entire vacation stressing about being in someone else’s shadow like that?

Enter Dakota. He’s also on vacation in the Caribbean with his family and he notices Jena. She’s hot (his words, not mine) and she looks just like the distraction he needs right now. Much to Jena’s surprise, they end up hooking up, but that’s because he hasn’t met Skye yet. Dakota can be a real jerk sometimes, and his vacation in the Caribbean proves no exception.

Cue Skye here. She knows it is wrong, but when she sees Dakota with Jena, Skye knows all it will take is for her to bat her eyelids in his direction and he’ll come a wandering. And he does. It’s cruel, yes, but it makes Skye feel good, even if it is only for a moment or two. As if Jena didn’t already feel lousy enough about who she was … did Skye really have to stoop that low?

This is where Owen comes in. Owen is Dakota’s brother. Deemed a wimp by his brother and his father, Owen’s social life is non-existent. He lives for his blog and the anonymity that having an online profile provides. Where Dakota is athletic and built, Owen is asthmatic and a weedy computer geek. Dakota has picked on Owen all his life and let’s just say that Owen – like Jena – has some self – esteem issues of his own.

If you ask me, Skye isn’t really such an awful person. She’s just got issues. She’s got a charmed life – all the money, beauty, and material possessions anyone could ever hope for – but she’s still not happy. And it’s not because she’s a spoiled brat (although she certainly exhibits traits that would attest to that now and then), it’s because she’s depressed. Money and stuff can’t cure depression and I love how Mackler touches on this within Skye’s journey.

Unfortunately, Dakota does not have the same excuse. He’s not mentally ill, he’s just a jerk. In his defense, though, he’s had a bit of a hard life – but that’s no excuse, if you ask me. What we learn from Dakota, though, is that people can change, and that, my friends, is one of the most important lessons in life.

I loved Owen and Jena. To me, they represent forgiveness and second chances. Even though they are both treated badly by Skye and Dakota, when push comes to shove, they are able to forgive, forget, and make amends. The world needs more people like Owen and Jena.

The thing I loved about this book the most of all is that it demonstrates that the world is full of all kinds of people. Different colors, races, sporting abilities and intellectuality, and those differences are just that, differences. We’re all just people inside and we all deserve to be loved and treated with respect, regardless of where we come from, what we do for a living, or what we look like. Although it may be subtle, Mackler drives this message home, with each character coming to realize this in their own special way.

A mix up of male and female narration, Tangled provides examples of a variety of adolescent troubles. With just a splash of romance and a whole lot of angst, Tangled is bound to be a hit with both male and female readers alike. This one is a rare gem in a pool of glass beads.

I’ve been a fan of Carolyn Mackler’s work for a long while now, and Tangled does not disappoint!

Pages: 310

Publication Date: 2010 (available now)


Teaser quote: Lube the conversation? This guy was definitely not from Earth.

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