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The Tribes of Palos Verdes

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  524 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Medina Mason and her twin brother Jim have just moved with their parents to the exclusive California beach community of Palos Verdes. Medina at 14 is awkward, hostile, instantly unpopular, while good-looking, easy-going Jim is quickly at home among the surfers, "towel girls", and potheads who make up the local surf scene.As her parents' marriage disintegrates and her broth ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 1st 1997 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1997)
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Alisha Marie
Apr 09, 2010 Alisha Marie rated it it was amazing
If you look at cover of the hardcover version of The Tribes of Palos Verdes you would probably think that it's about a girl who surfs with guys. Yes, there are guys in this book and yes, the main character, Medina, does surf, it goes much more deeper than that. Medina uses surfing as an outlet to escape the pain she feels and the horror of her home life.

Throughout the book, you see Medina painfully coming of age while dealing with drugs, sex, and being the only female surfer in her town. The dys
Jun 10, 2010 Jenneffer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up from a free shelf in a doctor's office. From the cover, and the jacket description, it seemed like it would be an easy beach read. How pleasantly surprised i was to discover a beautiful coming of age novel to rival the likes of 'the outsiders' or 'the heart is a lonely hunter.' That is to say, quality, lasting and moving.

The protagonist uses surfing as a coping mechanism for her tumultuous surroundings, and i had just taken my first surfing lesson when i read this book. You cou
Nov 16, 2008 Becca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have been recommending this to a lot of people lately, so I decided to give it another read to make sure it merits my praise. I have demoted it a star and now feel too hesitant to actually RECOMMEND it to anyone. It is well written, to be sure, but it is hardly tame in its presentation of this girl's sexual life.

An insightful book reflecting some interesting struggles that teen girls are facing, especially in the materialistic climate of coastal Southern California. The heroine of this novel,
Shannon Valdes
Oct 02, 2013 Shannon Valdes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was surprised to read some of the negative reviews on here because although it was a terribly sad book, I believe it was very beautifully written. "The water under my house shimmered like blood and glitter." I already want to read this book again.
Sep 24, 2012 Lennie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Medina Mason is a teenager living in the well-to-do neighborhood of Palos Verdes. Her father is a heart surgeon to the stars in Beverly Hills and her mother is a former model. She has a twin brother named Jim who is her best friend. They all live in a mansion that sits close to the shore in the Lunada Bay area but despite living a privileged life, things aren’t going so well for Medina. She has a hard time being accepted by her peers, her relationship with her mother is strained and her parents ...more
Helena Miller
I received this from a student. Female surfer--what's not to love!?!?!

Now that I've finished it, this is actually a much darker novel than I expected when I heard the protagonist was a female surfer. A theme of the book, sadly, is that a person cannot save anyone but themselves, no matter how much they may love or want to save another. The protagonist values her independence, and as a result she is willing to save herself even if the choices she makes are not popular with her family, her communi
Scott Duffin
Jan 04, 2017 Scott Duffin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm looking forward to reading the book. I grew up in Palos Verdes and actually knew some of people which this book is based on.
Jun 30, 2007 Lara rated it really liked it
Shelves: very-favorites
I remember that summer by this book...vicariously living the life of a surfer girl.
Jul 19, 2008 Anna rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I picked this book up at the library simply because the title caught my eye. I didn't really know anything about it or the author and decided to give it a shot.

I read the whole thing in one sitting and it was a surprisingly decent, but somewhat twisted story. It's about a very dysfunctional family in southern California. The narrator is a 14/15 year old female who turns to surfing as a way of coping with her problems. Her twin brother, on the other hand, tries to be the "good guy" and finds tha
Oct 24, 2010 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this may be one of the saddest books that I have ever read. What happens to teenagers who have too much stuff and not enough parenting? Bad things... The only bit of sanity in the life of Medina and her brother, Jim, is surfing the break in Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes, CA. Here everyone is judged by their "outsides" -- what do they own, how do they look? Whatever is negative is hidden behind the front doors of the beautiful mansions. Each member of the Mason family has their own brand of ...more
Apr 23, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Man, this book was dark in the darkest sense. Not witches or supernatural dark, but rather, the worst kind of dark: reality. Nicholson's protagonist is a deeply misunderstood, angry, unloved rich girl with an absent father, and a mother who is obsessed with the protagonist's twin brother. This story is a downward spiral that starts with barely a drop of hope and ends with less than you thought imaginable, demonstrating the true wickedness and utter despair that abundant wealth can buy.

However, N
Dec 01, 2015 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I remember this as a good female pov coming-of-age novel, set among the affluent surfing set in California - the usual drugs-and-boys, but well done I thought. (It was about 8 years ago I read it).
...found this in my 2002 notebook: rich girl in SoCal suburb dealing with binge eating mother, skirt chasing father, a brother slipping into heroin addiction and a hierarchy of groups at school.

The 'towel girls' who don't answer if you address them. She loses her virginity to a 'gnarled old man' of 35.
Philip Gordon
Apr 26, 2014 Philip Gordon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this book back in high school and initially hating it (as I did every book we were assigned). Because I read so quickly, I gave it another go, and looking back, I can't see why I didn't like it. There's a ton of depth in the content and symbolism for a book aimed at a younger audience, and I think the story's unapologetic portrayal of the grittier parts of adolescence is very well done. I'm too far away in time to recall exact sentences, but scenes jump out at me, and all of t ...more
Adam Chodosh
Jul 22, 2016 Adam Chodosh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is realistic and it can definitely relate to certain types of people, especially to these certain types of people living here in PV and attending the high school. I grew up here, experienced and went through things that were similar to what the main character in this book was going through and what she did to exempt her stress from being ostracized and dealing with the conflicts between her parents. What I really admire about this book is that it gives the audience a true picture of th ...more
Julie S.
Dec 30, 2010 Julie S. rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 01, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mark by: Debbie
Told in tiny patchwork vignettes, The Tribes of Palos Verdes reads easy but with an affecting air, hiding more than it immediately reveals. This is a novel that knows that countless others have trekked the coming-of-age path and rather than act self-conscious or worry about others, it closes its eyes and stretches out its arms to convey what is personal and emotionally real. A few stale moments in the last quarter, but 4 stars for hitting the spot most of the time.
This is a tough one to rate because my initial interest in the book was based on the fact that I grew up in Palos Verdes. That said, I found it to be an easy read and I enjoyed it. Half of it uses fictitious names, while the other half are real. Part of the fun for me was guessing the inspiration for some of these specific people and places. The book was a bit dark, but it was an interesting read.
Apr 09, 2011 Lukasz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The Tribes...' is the only YA novel I've read in English, and so I'd rather judge it on its own terms, than as representative of that particular genre. I think it's important, as the terse, dispassionate voice with which Medina introduces the reality surrounding her while refraining from any form of introspection may or may not be typical of YA literature. Either way, I found the style of this novel extremely refreshing and intelligently restrained. Brilliant.
Dec 07, 2011 Anasylvia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't what I was expecting, it was very sad. I could feel Medina's sorrow and loneliness and her love for her brother in everything she did. I initially wanted to read this book, because I don't live far from PV, and there isn't many books out there on this particular area of California. I was a bit disappointed with her depiction of the South Bay, though. Still the overall story was very touching. A book about love.
Sep 01, 2011 Susie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An older book that was rec'd to me since I LOVE White Oleander by Janet Fitch. There are some similarities in that it's written in first-person narrative by a young coming-of-age girl, and also the mother in the story is despicable (WAY worse than the mother in WO).
I liked the way it was written; it's not a long book, but it pulls you in. Even with minimal description, you can picture everything so clearly. And, finally, the ending is heart-wrenching.
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Poshdeluxe
Cover Story: No Shame
BFF Charm: Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: 0
Talky Talk: Straight Up Raw
Bonus Factors: Point Break, Mommy Dearest
Relationship Status: My Crazy Ex

Read the full book report here.
Sherry Berkin
Oct 17, 2015 Sherry Berkin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an amazing, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching and memorable read. I can see why Jennifer Garner signed on to play the mom in the movie version. Such spare beautiful writing but so emotional. I really felt for the two main characters. Growing up in Palos Verdes myself, I could totally see this happening.
Jan 23, 2013 Ariss rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel about a 16 year old surfer girl. I absolutely love this book I can’t believe how real it was.
Melinda, a defiant and awkward teenage girl, is a newcomer to Palos Verdes. She becomes instantly unpopular while her twin brother becomes easily accepted and popular. Medina Mason turns to surfing to deal with her family spiraling out of her control.
Mar 05, 2011 Sazria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i don't get why some ppl love this book.
i really don't.
its kinda depressing book for me to read over medina's situation.

but will keep on reading to the end, to see the purpose of this book.(though book, fiction doesn't really need one)
not quite sure how the story will end, so, i'll keep on reading!!
Jodi Gutierrez
Fairly interesting read, but I felt it went beyond reality and exaggerated the negativity.
My brief and unsophisticated summary? Girl has a messed up family, where everyone in the family keeps doing messed up things that make everything worse. People die. You have not been made to care enough about the characters to be too upset.
Jun 28, 2008 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book of teenage angst. Storytelling told in great literary fashion. A book that can "show" emotion better than it "tells" emotion is a fine work indeed. Sensitivity rating: I can't remember everything, but I seem to recall that it shouldn't be too offensive, but if it is to you, I didn't find it so when I read it.
Jenny Younker
Jul 06, 2014 Jenny Younker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have always enjoyed reading as I was growing up. As a kid I liked reading mystery novels but this novel was the first book that I read that really got me hooked on reading! I have read it multiple times and have recommended it to everyone that I meet who brings up a passion for reading (but I never loan it out... Selfish I know because I will always have an attachment to it).
Kris Maule
Dec 31, 2014 Kris Maule rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book even though it's very dark. Couldn't put it down. Chosen by my book club because one of our members grew up in Palos Verdes. Rumor has it the book is going to be made into a movie. Hope the rumor is true!
Adelaide Mackenzie Fuss
I grew up in California and this story is pitch perfect. People are heartless and cruel around this surf town of Palos Verdes. An accurate, memorable tale. Simultaneously made me homesick and then not.
David Schlosser
This was a compelling read -- good, but quick. My rating should be somewhere around 3.5 stars -- between liked and really liked. Terrific for a first novel, with plenty of keen insights through the eyes of an interesting protagonist.
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