Untwine (Danticat)

. . . to be good at drawing you need to simplify. You have to break things down into small parts, into lines, dashes, and dots. Bodies become shapes. Faces become circles. Chests become squares. Legs become cylinders and cones.

This quotation can apply to young adult fiction as well. And I don’t mean that to sound condescending – not at all. In Untwine, Danticat draws an achingly good story of what happens to one twin when the other dies. At one point, she (who for a few harrowing pages was thought to be the one who’d died) asks whether she can still call herself a twin. I do mean, though, much like young adult versions of books like Fast Food Nation (Chew on This) are created, I wonder what would happen if Danticat wrote this book again for adults. I sense that there’s more here – with the girl who causes the accident. This detail is perhaps too simplified.

Unlike many, Danticat gets her teenaged narrator right. I never sensed a false or overly wise moment. There are no wasted lines here. Based on my knowledge of what Danticat can do, though, I just yearned for more flesh on these bones. I attended a recent talk of Danticat’s and even (I’m bragging here) had a chance to meet her in person. Her sketches are better than most people’s detailed works. I can’t wait for what’s next.



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