In her latest YA novel, Twisted, Lisa Harrington has created a vivid, convincing world of multi-layered characters grappling with the complexities and challenges of mental illness. After the recent death of her mother, eighteen-year-old Lyssa Thomson is determined to start a new life. Escaping the clutches of her alcoholic stepfather, Vince, she boards a bus for Halifax, hoping to surprise her boyfriend, Kyle, with her plans to also attend university. Lyssa gets her own surprise, though, when she learns that Kyle’s been two-timing her. Desperate, Lyssa lands on the doorstep of her estranged stepbrother, Aidan, who readily takes her in.
Lyssa gets a part-time job at a local coffee shop, where she meets a quirky crew, including pre-med student, Liam. While her friendship with Liam turns romantic, Lyssa’s relationship with Aidan unravels, as she witnesses his increasingly troubling mood swings, jealous behaviour, and countless lies. Aidan’s no longer the person she thought she knew, and in one especially volatile confrontation, Lyssa discovers some shocking family secrets that threaten to destroy their relationship.
Engaging and unpredictable, this thriller offers a chilling account of one teen’s encounter with a family member living with schizophrenia that is sure to spark meaningful conversations about mental health. Through convincing dialogue and well-paced scenes, Harrington captures the right balance of romance, self-discovery, and adolescent anxiety, but Twisted is best suited for older readers able to appreciate the mature, bittersweet nature of love, loss, and longing.