Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding

The Basics:

Ink is Thicker than Water by Amy Spalding
Entangled: Teen
Young Adult, Romance
Published December 3, 2013


For Kellie Brooks, family has always been a tough word to define. Combine her hippie mom and tattooist stepdad, her adopted overachieving sister, her younger half brother, and her tough-love dad, and average Kellie’s the one stuck in the middle, overlooked and impermanent. When Kellie’s sister finally meets her birth mother and her best friend starts hanging with a cooler crowd, the feeling only grows stronger.

But then she reconnects with Oliver, the sweet and sensitive college guy she had a near hookup with last year. Oliver is intense and attractive, and she’s sure he’s totally out of her league. But as she discovers that maybe intensity isn’t always a good thing, it’s yet another relationship she feels is spiraling out of her control.

It’ll take a new role on the school newspaper and a new job at her mom’s tattoo shop for Kellie to realize that defining herself both outside and within her family is what can finally allow her to feel permanent, just like a tattoo.

My Thoughts:

This book was a little different from my standard fare - normally I go in for stories where the romance is a HUGE part of the story. There *is* definitely a romance subplot in this book, and it's sweet and deep and enjoyable. But the bigger plot here is about a teenager growing into her own skin.

This whole identity thing has been a real theme in the books I've been reading - maybe I'm more attuned to it right now or perhaps it's the current hot topic in the genres I'm reading. More likely, it's simply part of the universal tale of growing up and since the heroines in the books I've been reading all fall within that 16-30 age group, growing up is a significant part of their stories.

Regardless, this book really made me think about my own experiences and how I identify myself. Five stars for that alone!

Kellie's undergoing a year of changes - her best friend is branching out to new people, leaving Kellie behind. Her older sister no longer seems to have time for her, her father still sees her as a screw-up, and her mom is proud of her for absolutely nothing. Her lack of obvious talents makes Kellie feel useless, and without a role in her own life story. While it might be obvious to the reader and to the people in Kellie's life how useful she can be, I imagine that everyone can relate to how she feels. Not knowing what sets her apart and gives her value, while at the same time being self-conscious about the things that do exactly that, Kellie's journey through her junior year might resonate with anyone who's ever found themselves undergoing life changes, finding old relationships on shaky ground and unsure how new ones will evolve.

Kellie is juggling so much, wearing so many hats, and this handled so well by Spalding, and seems completely natural within the context of the story. I was completely enthralled by Ink is Thicker than Water and I know I'll come back to it again for a re-read in the near future.

The only sticking point for me was age. At sixteen, it's hard for me to believe that Kellie's allowed to take her car (her own car at this age?) out and about all over town, particularly so late at night and onto college campuses, without her parents being a little bit more protective. Yes, her mom is very cool, and I hope we all can be so understanding when it comes to our children and the idea of them having safe sex and all of this. But Kellie's expectation of freedoms and her comfort level seem beyond her young age. Even adjusting her to seventeen instead of approaching it would have smoothed over that issue for me. Funny how that one year seems to make such a difference for me mentally. Is it a holdover on the whole 'sweet sixteen' thing? Or do I really believe that seventeen is so much different/more mature than sixteen?  Perhaps it's simply that with the licensing system in my province, it would be impossible for a teenager to be driving alone before their seventeenth birthday....

Bottom Line:

Charming, honest, painful - everything that your late teens should be. This book tackles change, blended families, what expect of our loved ones and how we relate to new people in our lives. I think it's a very well-written novel, and an excellent YA title.

A must read!

5 stars
Fans of YA/NA, fans of Sarah Dessen

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