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Theodora Twist    by Melissa Senate order for
Theodora Twist
by Melissa Senate
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Author Melissa Senate (See Jane Date, The Solomon Sisters Wise Up and Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?) makes her YA debut with Theodora Twist, which has two stand-out cast members. The spotlight centers on Hollywood's 'hottest young actress' Theodora Twist, discovered at age thirteen. 'Producers court her, fans mob her, and the tabloids cover everything.' There's also sixteen-year old Emily Stone, who considers herself an ordinary, boring person. The only thing Emily considers notable about herself is that she lives with her Mom, stepdad Stew and baby sister Sophie in a house that was once the residence of the famed Theodora Twist.

Back and forth from Oak City, New Jersey to Hollywood, Senate tells the tale of a young actress turned somewhat to the wild side, and a high school student whose best friends Belle and Jen are her mainstay, along with the love of her mother. The story unfolds through alternating chapter perspectives from Theodora and Emily. Theodora has been caught by the media at the beach in a comprising situation with twin music stars - Boy and Brandon Bellini (not for the first time). Her agent Ashley Bean sets out to sanitize Theodora's image (especially since her new movie Family is about to be released). 'I'm going to have to come up with something really good to get you back into the public's good graces. I have no idea what, but trust me. I'll think of something', says Ashley.

That something is a TV reality show entitled 'Theodora Twist: Just a Regular Teen'. The scenario will play out in the home Theodora grew up in, the Stone family will be her hosts, and Emily is about to become Twisted. As far as Emily is concerned, her status upgrade to 'popular and in-demand' is only destined to last as long as Theodora is in town for the month's taping of the show. Emily is not sure what to think about having the elusive and mysterious Theodora Twist in her house, sharing her bedroom, having her every move and conversation taped for possible broadcast on television. Her loyal friends Jen and Molly are included in activities with Theodora. Insightful teen Emily and famous Theodora have more in common than the house - they were once friends for a short period in elementary years, and both lost their dads, which left a large, haunting hole.

Theodora Twist is a quick-paced, well-written, fetching read. Emily and Theodora discover commonalities, friendship, self-esteem, and family. Theodora learns that the death of her father still haunts her, and that the gap between herself and her mother can be narrowed with a little, honest, open effort. In turn, Emily, Mom, and Stew awaken to a more understanding, fulfilling family setting. Emily realizes that being famous might not be all it's publicized to be, as a friendship blossoms beyond anything that has to do with fame and fortune. Events in the story will make you feel warm and tingly inside, and perhaps cause a tear or two to run down your cheeks.

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