Questions and Topics for Discussion
High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background—average student, average looks, average dysfunctional family. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy—and Tyler’s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in the school, in his family, and in the world. In Twisted, the acclaimed Laurie Halse Anderson tackles a very controversial subject: what it means to be a man today. Fans and new readers alike will be captured by Tyler’s pitchperfect, funny voice, the surprising narrative arc, and the thoughtful moral dilemmas that are at the heart of all of the author’s award-winning, widely read work.
ABOUT LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON
Laurie Halse Anderson was born in Potsdam, a cold place in northern New York State where as a little girl, she pounded away at her father’s old typewriter for hours, writing newspaper columns, stories, and letters. She never intended to be an author. At Georgetown University, she majored in foreign languages and linguistics. Laurie hit the real world with no idea of what kind of work she wanted to do. She tried everything, including cleaning banks, milking cows, and working as a stockbroker. Being a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer was a slight improvement, but she eventually quit to write books. Her first novel, Speak, was a National Book Award Finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, a New York Times Bestseller, and an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults. Laurie currently lives with her family in Mexico, New York. To find out more about Laurie, visit her website at www.writerlady.com.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONSTyler’s landscaping job develops his muscles, but also allows him to use his skills at digging holes: “I was good at digging holes. It was the rest of life I sucked at” (p. 39). What figurative holes has Tyler dug for himself in his life? Is it really true that he isn’t good at anything else?
Although he doesn’t seem like a depressed person, Tyler admits to being preoccupied with death. “Thinking about death relaxed me” (p. 44). Why? In what ways has he died and been reborn again throughout the story?
At Tyler’s high school there is a clear distinction between the popular crowd and everyone else. Where do you fit in the social scale at your school? In what ways has the status you hold in your social sphere defined you? In what ways is this role true to who you are? In what ways is it not?
Why does Tyler like Bethany? Were there any signs early on that she might not really like him the same way he liked her? What do you think is her real attraction to him? Is it true when his sister Hannah says that it could never have worked out? In your own life, are there any examples of two very different people who manage to be together despite their apparent differences?
What do you think of Tyler’s reaction to Bethany’s behavior at the party? How would you react? Would you be sad? Angry?
Why do you think Laurie Halse Anderson chose “Twisted” as the title of this novel? What does it mean in relation to the story?
On the surface Tyler seems to disrespect the janitors that he is made to work with as part of his probation. Yet they act as a sort of conscience and offer support later in the story. Have you ever gotten help from an unexpected source?
Who has Tyler been trying to be? His father? A loser? A cool guy? Which of these identities is closest to his true self?