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Unraveling by Michelle Baldini


by Michelle Baldini

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First things first: this book is for the mature audience! There is sex!

Secondly, the actual review. Personally things 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 make one crack underneath the surface. We turn to the false promises and half-spoken truth to cheer us up. In Amanda’s case, however, it was the turn to potential boyfriends turned “I love you. I want you” turned “what have I just done”.

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. ( )
  ylin.0621 | Feb 14, 2010 |
Reviewed by Kelli (Class of 2012)
This book deals with the life of a teenage girl who goes through many problems, but in the end gets through it all. More for girls than guys kind of book! ( )
  HHS-Students | Jan 21, 2010 |
It is a fast paced book and keeps your attention the whole time. The most sincere and heart-warming part was when, atthe end of the book, the mother and daughter sit down revealing their pasts and how much they really were alike. It was really interesting and was as good as the person I got it from told me it was going to be. It was quite graphic but other than that I loved the story line. AHS/KP

I liked when Marian died. It really WASN'T that good. I REALLY didn't like this book. Kristen said it wsa good, as did you - all lies! AHS/BB
  edspicer | Oct 15, 2009 |
Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo.com

Amanda's life is unraveling.

She is excited for their family vacation to Myrtle Beach. She has been planning a rendezvous with Paul, a lifeguard that she met the previous summer. Paul is older and is expecting some excitement with Amanda this summer.

It's only after Amanda is alone with Paul that she realizes she's not ready to give him everything she wants. So after some experimentation, the two head back to their respective homes. But the two encounter Amanda's mom, aka The Captain. From there, the rest of the vacation takes a downward spiral and the family heads home early.

Life doesn't get any better for Amanda once she's back home. The school year starts and she knows she won't get the coveted open spot on the swimming relay team. Courtney, Fakey Flakey, will get the opening. She's guaranteed the spot because her family has offered the family swim club for the team to practice in while the school facility is being repaired.

Courtney's boyfriend, Rick, starts to talk to Amanda, and soon, Amanda is secretly meeting up with Rick and making out with him. Amanda thinks that she can get back at Courtney through Rick. But Rick won't break up with Courtney, stating his family expects him to be with her. But the two strike a deal. If Rick takes Amanda to Homecoming, she'll have sex with him.

Amanda and her mom are always at odds. Her younger sister can do no wrong, but Amanda is always the one getting in trouble. Thankfully, her Aunt Jen defends her to her mother. Amanda's dad sticks up for her, but it's her mother that runs the house.

Amanda has to get permission from her mom to go to the dance. Of course, she can't let her know she's got a date. She has to delicately tread water. Once she gets the okay, it's her Aunt Jen who helps convince her mom with the perfect dress.

Needless to say, the dance doesn't go as planned, and she is used by Rick. When she comes home early saying she's sick, her mom immediately jumps to the assumption that Amanda was up to no good. Her mom can never give her the benefit of the doubt.

As the story unfolds, Amanda gains insight into what drives her mother. The two can never see eye to eye. It's only when tragedy hits her mother that Amanda (and maybe her mom) can start to connect again. And then maybe Amanda can stop unraveling.

Ms. Baldini and Ms. Biederman write an honest and moving story of a girl whose world seems to be falling apart. Amanda feels unloved and unwelcome in her own home. She searches for meaning and acceptance and love anywhere that she can. The depth of her feelings is believable and heartfelt. Interspersed throughout the story are poems that Amanda writes. They tie the story together perfectly, blending together the plot with Amanda's thoughts.

UNRAVELING is definitely written for the older teen, though, with a lot of sexual content. It is not explicit, but it is mentioned frequently. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 13, 2009 |
Fifteen-year-old Amanda can’t seem to live up to her mother’s– a.k.a. The Captain– standards. It doesn’t matter what she does or what she doesn’t do, it always lands her in hot water. She fights with her mother so often she has to give them names to keep them all straight. She’ll never measure up to her perfect little sister Malady and she resents The Captain for it.Since Amanda doesn’t get the support she needs at home she often feels unwanted by her own mother. In retaliation Amanda turns to someone that will give her attention, boys.Rick Hayes the most popular guy at school starts flirting with Amanda and she thinks she is in heaven. No matter that he already has a girlfriend. She enjoys their secret make-out sessions in the parking lot, but she wants more. She wants to be with him in public, more specifically she wants to be his girlfriend. Rick offers her that and a date to homecoming all in exchange for one thing. Her virginity.What an outstanding debut novel! I look forward to reading more by Baldini and Biederman. The plot was refreshingly original. And Amanda’s character was so truthful and raw. She’s everything I remember about being a teen, insecure, unsure, and only wishes she was popular. I also loved that even though Amanda’s life was less than perfect she wasn’t one of those characters that whines and pitied herself the whole story. That absolutely drives me crazy! And she had plenty to whine about! The mother–daughter relationship was so compelling. I’m glad I never had a mom like that! I absolutely recommend this book to teenage girls. Warning: there are sexual situations and suggestions in this novel. ( )
  the_story_siren | Jul 2, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385735405, Hardcover)

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. Sharp, chatty, and brutally honest, this debut novel is compulsively readable and heartbreakingly real.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

When fifteen-year-old Amanda faces major life changes, her controlling mother is the last person she turns to, but she gains some sympathy as she begins to understand her mother's relationship with her best friend.

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