Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ink is Thicker Than Water (Book Review)

Thursday, December 5, 2013 7:22 AM with 13 comments
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Ink is Thicker Than Water

Author: Amy Spalding
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: December 3, 2013
Number of Pages: 320

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.


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MY THOUGHTS:

I loved Ms. Spalding's debut novel, The Reese Malcolm List, and was thrilled when I found out that she had another novel coming out--and was even more thrilled when it popped up on NG. While I didn't have quite the same love for this novel, I do think that it is absolutely worth checking out.

Ink is Thicker Than Water is a novel about families. There is a love interest and friend drama, as well, but the focus is definitely on family dynamics. Kellie Brooks is the middle child. She has an adopted sister, Sara, who just turned 18 (Kellie is 16) and a half-brother who is 4. Kellie's mother and father divorced when she was in grade school and her mother is now happily married to a man who she met when she got her first tattoo. The two now run a successful tattoo parlor called The Family Ink. Kellie's father is a no-nonsense fellow who lives across town. Kellie and Sara occasionally spend the night at his house, but Kellie prefers her mother's place. Sara is their father's clear favorite and he is often on Kellie to try harder and do more. Sara is serious and studious while Kellie is more like their free-flowing, hippie mamma. Kellie's sister has just met her birth mother and seems to be getting closer and closer to this woman she just met. Kellie and Sara have always been close, but Sara no longer seems to have any time for her.

On top of this, Kellie's best friend, Kaitlyn, has started running with a cooler crowd and has started ignoring her completely. Kellie joins the school newspaper--she goes to a hippied out private school--and has gotten closer to one of the girls on the staff, but it isn't the same as her old friendship.

Finally, there is the boy, Oliver. Oliver is the brother of Sara's boyfriend, Dexter, and she is worried that dynamic will put an even further strain on her relationship with Sara and so she keeps it a secret. In the book synopsis  it talks about how their relationship is intense and "spiraling out of control" which I think is a bit of a misnomer. I was expecting abuse or something equally unappealing, but I really liked Oliver. He is very sweet to Kellie and the romance was easily one of my favorite aspects of the story.

Almost every aspect of this story is done well. The family dynamics, which was the focus of her debut as well, really shone here. I loved her mother and stepfather and their tattoo shop. The hurt that Kellie feels when it seems like her sister is slipping away was well done and rang true. On those same lines, the loss of a best friend was very real and I wish it would have been explored just a tiny bit more. I remember an especially painful friend break-up I experienced late in my high school years, and this reminded me of it so much it almost hurt. Again, I thought the romance was sweet and was happy that it didn't overwhelm the narrative.

*SPOILER*:
My only real complaint with this book was that her mother gives her a tattoo at the end. She is only 16. The tattoo means something, of course, but I just don't like the idea of a kid who is still growing getting permanently marked. Maybe I'm being a prude, but it's how I feel.
*END SPOILER*

Overall, I would definitely recommend Ink is Thicker Than Water. Ms. Spalding seems to have quite the talent for writing real, fresh family stories and I am already anxiously awaiting her next offering.

*I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.*

13 comments:

  1. I love books that focus on family so I'll definitely be picking this one up! Great review :) (oh and I need to read The Reese Malcolm List soon too!)

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    1. I really like books that focus on families, too. I love a good romance, of course, but sometimes it's nice for the focus to be something other than. The Reece Malcolm List is awesome. Definitely give that one a try. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. THIS COMMENT CONTAINS SPOILERS:

    My only real issue with Ink is Thicker Than Water is the same as yours but for different reasons. According to California Penal Code 653, every person who tattoos or offers to tattoo a person under the age of 18 years is guilty of a misdemeanor - regardless of parental consent. I realize it would change the entire way the book ends, but it seems silly to me to get something like that wrong.

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    1. Hmm. I didn't know that, but it definitely sounds like something the mother would be aware of. I know it would change the ending, too, but there could have been some other closure that I would have appreciated more. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. Sounds like a fun one! I like books about families...mostly because they're hilarious. Is it quite funny? I haven't read any other books by this author, though, but I should check it out!

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    1. This really isn't funny at all. It isn't super dark, but she is definitely dealing with some issues. I definitely never laughed while reading it. This is her second book. I really enjoyed her first, The Reece Malcolm List, although it really isn't a comedy either. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I think it's great that this primarily focuses on family dynamics. You rarely see that much. Most books start with those family issues but then evolve into the MC finding an escape in some guy and that becomes the main subject matter. This sort of sounds like my family. My dad is the much more serious one and my mom is the go with the flow person. My middle sister is clearly my dad's favorite. She could basically do anything she wanted and he wouldn't care. If she needs money, he offers it up right away. Really irritating but it happens. This sounds like a good book and something I can sort of relate to. Great review-- so happy to have you back reviewing a bit :)

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    1. The love interest was definitely prominent as well, but that story line never took over. The focus really did remain on the family for the most part. I just have a sister and my parents have never shown any blatant favoritism. I'm sure they both have their favorite, of course, but they treat us the same. Thanks! I actually have a few things to review; now I just need to find the time to type them up.

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  5. Huh. Interesting thoughts! I haven't read this one yet, but I adored The Reece Malcolm List so I am intrigued in seeing what I think of this one. Great review!

    Bella @ Ciao Bella

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    1. If you liked Reece Malcolm, you'll probably enjoy this one. The strength of both is the family dynamics. Let me know what you think if you do pick this up. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. I have her first book on my Kindle, but I haven't made time for it yet. I also have this one to read. I should probably read this one first so that I don't go into it with higher than necessary expectations. I tried to start it, but there was something wrong with the galley and it made my head hurt, so I gave up for the time-being. :/

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    1. It wasn't like this one was a HUGE let down. I just liked the first one better. The main character goes to a performing arts school, and that setting was just really fun. My galley was jacked, too, but after awhile I got used to it. I'm assuming yours was the same problem: missing fl and fi when they were next to each other. It's amazing how many words have those combinations!

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Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!