Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

Entangled by Cat Clarke

As you will know by now, I am a very busy multi-functional device.  Certainly I am not a person prone to lolling around for hours reading.  Mostly I do my reading in snatches.  A little here, a little there… very, very rarely I might lock myself in the bathroom, put on headphones, run the taps and refuse to come out until I’ve finished.  And Entangled made me do just that.

I’m a little bit reticent about making up my own synopsis, since there are so many questions at the start of the book that I don’t want to write inadvertent spoilers.  So I’ll quote from the blurb:

 

‘The same questions whirl round and round in my head:
What does he want from me?
How could I have let this happen?
AM I GOING TO DIE?’


17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room, with table, pens and paper – and no clue how she got there.
As Grace pours her tangled life onto the page, she is forced to remember everything she’s tried to forget. There’s falling hopelessly in love with the gorgeous Nat, and the unravelling of her relationship with her best friend Sal. But there’s something missing. As hard as she’s trying to remember, is there something she just can’t see?
Grace must face the most important question of all. Why is she here?
A story of dangerous secrets, intense friendships and electrifying attraction.

 

Okay, that’s pretty much all you’re getting.  I can probably add without much risk that: her father is dead, her mother is hopeless and absent, Grace self-harms and despite being a party animal with a great sense of humour she is an extremely troubled girl.

“I met Ethan the night I was planning to kill myself.  Pretty inconvenient, when you think about it.”   The first paragraph, and instantly I was captured by Grace.  She has such a jaunty, likeable voice and throughout the novel you’re alternating between wry smiles at her witty observations and total despair at her intent to self-destruct. As a character she is so vividly depicted and utterly flawed in all the right ways that you immediately take her into your heart.  She talks a lot about her armour and the face she puts on for the world.  Which is very different to the totally messed up person she is inside.  I found myself often reminiscing about the whacked out teenager I once was. Maybe this is one reason why I was so completely captivated.

This is a very dark story although it is lifted throughout by Grace’s warmth and humour and the distance in the way the story is told.  In this white room where she has been trapped she has to write down her past.  The fact that she is already distanced from it herself and that the flow is broken with her wondering what she is doing in the room helps to stop the utter tragedy of her situation and horrors she inflicts upon herself from becoming too intense.  The writing is beautifully spare and hits exactly the right tone to neither understate nor overemphasise the very real traumas that Grace faces.

I utterly loved Entangled.  It absorbed me instantly and I was completely captivated by the fabulous characters, the intriguing mystery of the plot and by the heart-breaking dilemmas faced by Grace.  Believe me, pick this book up and it won’t let you go for a long time after you’ve finished reading.

About Eve Harvey

Eve Harvey is a bookaholic. She is forever to be found with her nose in a book. If there are none around then newspapers, magazines, the back of cereal packets, road signs or the tiny washing labels found on the seams of jumpers will do. Eve used to have full time job as a children's bookseller and she was the very first Waterstone's Children's Expert Bookseller in Scotland. Her first love was definitely literature for children and teens, about which she has nerd-level knowledge. However she has since become involved in grown-up books and has co-written her first adult novel with Cath Murphy. Eve and Cath Podcast, blog and have far too much fun on their website Domestic Hell. Eve lives in a field just outside Edinburgh in Scotland with her daughter and son and two dogs and two rabbits. She also has some tanks of tropical fish and vows one day to start up a marine aquarium. And the day she signs her very first publishing deal she is going to celebrate by buying a pair of Horsefields tortoises. You can find Eve through her Agent, Ella Kahn at DKW Literary Agency. She's also on Twitter or on her website : EveHarvey.com

2 comments on “Entangled by Cat Clarke

  1. Jackie
    February 12, 2011

    You are good at finding realistic YA books & I’m glad you highlight them. I think books like this make teens think a little differently about their own situations, whether theirs is similar or the opposite. I think adults under estimate what deep questions teens are often dealing with, it’s not always what outfit to wear or how to style their hair.
    I do wonder how Grace knows she’s supposed to write on the paper supplied? Are there instructions provided or does she just start writing because there’s nothing else to do? Is it lined paper or blank paper? Because she could’ve drawn some pictures instead of writing, especially if the paper was blank. But then, had she drawn instead of written, there’d be no book, which is the point of it all, isn’t it?

  2. Eve Harvey
    February 12, 2011

    Thank you Jackie… and my, you ask some interesting questions.

    I totally agree that YA books are designed to make kids think… whether the situation applies to them or not. Perhaps they may have a friend or know someone having these dilemmas, it can help them see how to work through them.

    It’s said in the novel that she had aspirations towards writing, and it’s stated a number of times that writing down her thoughts is helping her to work them out. I guess it’s like those angsty teen diaries we kept (I had one… thank goodness my Dad accidentally chucked it out!), or the dreadful love poetry… which I had reams of!

    But, it’s true, if she were and artistic type (like your good self) perhaps she would have drawn instead of written – and then it might have been a whole different graphic novel 🙂 (My daughter would certainly have done the drawing!)

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This entry was posted on February 12, 2011 by in Entries by Eve, Fiction: young adult and tagged , , , , .

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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