*Spoiler concerning plot*
“Youth In Revolt” by C.D. Payne is a masterpiece of comedy and intellect, all gathered into one realistic fourteen year-old protagonist: Nick Twisp.
As the quintessential anti-hero of the post-modern era, Twisp represents more than just a teenager trying to win the heart of his beloved Sheeni, but rather the youth revolting against society’s standards and pressures.
Payne’s unique and inventive language not only personalizes Twisp’s world, but also brings a type of realism not seen in young adult literature (if you can call it that) before. While, some may find “Youth” a bit liberal in its honest portrayal of the youth, many would agree those timeless awkward moments are as painful as repeating those unforgettable years of high school.
There were times in this book when I was left laughing out loud (Twisp in women’s clothing trying to woo Sheeni). Other times I found myself speechless at the authenticity of his life. As a woman, I could only imagine the relationship a male reader would have with Twisp. I cannot relate from personal experience, but I would say that most men would enjoy his trials and tribulations of adolescence.
In the book, Twisp documents his gripping life over a period of six months in journal form, which is saturated in sarcasm, black humor and an undeniable amount of maturity and candidness. Yet there are those keen moments when he is fantasizing of Sheeni naked that you are thrown back into the mind of a teenager.
Twisp's alter-ego, Francois, was created so that Twisp could win Sheeni's love. His dashing, almost maniacal antics teeter on the edge of insanity, yet through this character Payne was able to somehow offer sympathy toward Twisp. In other words, if you thought Twisp was bad, just look at Francois burning up vehicles or breaking into an all-girl private school and you quickly realize that Twip is just another boy in love with a girl.
Twisp’s family consists of divorced parents -- a mother who falls in love with the wrong men (Lance being the worst of them) and a father dating women half his age (also known as “bimbettes”). It is no wonder Twisp is openly in revolt against his family. Wouldn't you be if the people who are supposed to be your role models are imbeciles?
After reading this book it is hard not to relate to Twisp. Of course, many of us do not have the same problems as he does or get into the same dilemmas (the FBI is searching for him during one third of the novel), but you get a sense that there is a Twisp inside us all. We all will fight for our loved ones, no matter the consequence. In fact, the old adage, "only fools fall in love," is a true statement regarding Twisps and Sheeni's love affair.
“Youth” brought Payne into the realm of underground success. Spawning not only this book, he published many sequels following Twisp’s exploits, such as “Revolting Youth,” “Cut to the Twisp,” “Young and Revolting” and “Revoltingly Young.”
This book will have you laughing out loud, possibly cringing at the realism of teenage youth and wanting more of this 14-year-old character’s life.
As Twisp stated in the end: “The teen years are full of transient traumas, but people live through them. We’ll be happy someday.” Truer words were never spoken, Mr. Twisp.
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