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3.29  ·  Rating details ·  308 ratings  ·  50 reviews
THE SMART THING Is to Prepare for the Unexpected.
So reads the fortune cookie fortune that Amanda receives at the beginning of her family’s vacation to Florida. Amanda knows all about preparing for the unexpected—her mother, whom she calls The Captain, is always hard on Amanda, and it’s just when Amanda lets her guard down that the very worst comes through. Looking fo
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2008)
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3.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  308 ratings  ·  50 reviews

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Nov 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Baldini, Michelle and Lynn Biederman. 2008. Unraveling. [Poems by Gabrielle Biederman:]

The first Chinese fortune I collected the summer I hooked up with Paul--the guy some might consider my first--read: The smart thing is to prepare for the unexpected. I should have taken it more seriously. Fortunes can be like little instructions for life; they may not fit yours at that particular moment, after that particular meal of kung pao chicken, but eventually they will. Trust me on this.

I loved Amanda H
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Wow!! I'm half-way through this book and am finding it totally realistic. Teens who find themselves contemplating giving it up for the first time need to read this. For a first time author, I think Baldini and Biederman have created a story that captures the reality of teenage choices and struggles. I hope the end follows through...
Now that I've finished, it did not disappoint!
Jul 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Love.It. I really connected with Manda and her problems - TMI, but I was there (20 years earlier, at least). One of the best books about being a teen and living through all that nonsense I've read in a very, very long time.
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: girls and their mothers/ mothers and their daughters
Recommended to Martha by: recieved an advance copy
A terrific and heartbreaking read. Reminds you what was so great about being a teenager--- and what was so awful!
Dec 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008
I have not seen such raw and heartbreaking emotion in a book for a really long time now. While the storyline might be ordinary mother-daughter problems, the voice is extraordinary and powerful. It’s rare to find debut novels so pleasantly written, so trust me when I tell you you NEED to read this book.

1. I didn’t get it at first, but the title and the cover art stay true to the novel. Well, the Homecoming dress, anyway. The girl? Not so much. Not to be superficial or anything, but the girl on t
Jul 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Fifteen-year-old Amanda can’t seem to live up to her mother’s– a.k.a. The Captain– standards. It doesn’t matter what she does or what she doesn’t do, it always lands her in hot water. She fights with her mother so often she has to give them names to keep them all straight. She’ll never measure up to her perfect little sister Malady and she resents The Captain for it.

Since Amanda doesn’t get the support she needs at home she often feels unwanted by her own mother. In retaliation Amanda turns to s
Aug 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
I liked the main character in this teen novel. Amanda is not the typical popular beauty. She also has been having a lot of trouble with her mom lately, and basically she feels like she doesn't know who she is or how to please her demanding mom, who she calls "The Captain". Her character is very endearing because she is going through what most teenagers go through, awkwardness, the desire to fit in, to be wanted, to feel comfortable in your own skin. I thought the story and the plot flowed well. ...more
Oct 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Just attended OELMA where she presented...and just finished reading it. It was really very good. Michelle Baldini talked about writing with someone else which I don't think I could do- but she and the other author pulled it off. Amanda Himmelfarb is a great character. I identified with her in many ways - a teen trying to fit in not only with her peers but in her family as well. I was heartbroken right along with Amanda as she makes right and wrong choices and as she weathers the stuff that is ul ...more
Jul 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Super angsty. Amanda's family is fighting hardcore, but the worst battles happen between Amanda and her mother. I feel so bad for poor Amanda and her hurt feelings. Amanda also must deal with being used by 2 different asshole jerk "boyfriends." On the plus side, she writes some pretty great poems.
Sep 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: pre-teen girls, moms and daughters
Like an updated version of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret because it tackles a girl's first period, her first sexual experiences and the awkwardness that goes along with adolescence. (Oh, and it was written by two librarians and the poetry interspersed throughout the book was written by a real teen!)
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-kid-lit
I liked this story because of the perspective. I felt like I was in the head of Amanda--in the same way that Beverly Cleary could articulate Ramona's thought processes as a 4-8 yr old (the best Ramona years, IMHO). It was a bit harsh in places, watching the mom, and it wraps up pretty quickly, but the pressures & issues facing Amanda were very contemporary, and her pain felt very real.
Nov 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: teen, ebooks
I wanted to strangle most of the characters in this book.
AJ LeBlanc
Dec 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, cbr-iv
With two major flaws, this is great YA.

There are some spoilers ahead. I tried to be vague, but I might give too much away for some of you.

Amanda is 15 and a mess. Her parents seem headed for divorce, her mom is constantly disappointed in her, her younger sister is perfect, and her love life is a disaster.

That plot could be used for almost any other YA book on the shelf. but Baldini and Biederman do so much more with Amanda and it’s wonderful.

The book deals with two major themes: Amanda and her m
Overall, an infuriating (but otherwise pretty good) book.

This is the first time I ever really did consistent progress updates while reading a story, so all of my ranting on that can be summed up as this:

Susan, aka The Captain aka Amanda's Mom, was abusive as hell. Physically, emotionally, mentally. She called her names, implied Amanda was stupid on multiple occasions, and during the dress-shopping scene? I strongly suspect that she nearly made a derogatory remark to the effect of "you look like
May 29, 2009 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Unraveling is the story of Amanda, a very normal fifteen year old sophomore, who is struggling; struggling with her mother, her friends, her family, and her sexuality. At fifteen that’s status quo.

Amanda makes some poor choices and ends up losing her virginity to a guy (Rick) who doesn’t care about her and is only using her. Again, status quo. Well, maybe not status quo, but it happens more than it should.

Amanda is faced with moving on, repairing herself, and healing broken relationships.

I tho
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jaglvr for

Amanda's life is unraveling.

She is excited for their family vacation to Myrtle Beach. She has been planning a rendezvous with Paul, a lifeguard that she met the previous summer. Paul is older and is expecting some excitement with Amanda this summer.

It's only after Amanda is alone with Paul that she realizes she's not ready to give him everything she wants. So after some experimentation, the two head back to their respective homes. But the two encounter Am
Mar 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Unraveling was really honest, definitely not something geared towards the younger kids. I mean, I went in expecting something honest and came out with something that’s not only honest but extremely real as well. Unraveling talks a lot about the problems that we teens face today – sex, overbearing moms, drugs, self-image, etc.

Amanda is just like any other ordinary girl. She wants to be accepted especially with guys and she wants to find love. So when she makes this deal with Rick, the gorgeous se
Dec 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Since reading a starred review of Unraveling in Publishers Weekly, I have been dying to get my hands on this book. While I found the book to be entertaining, it fell short of my expectations.

I was far from impressed by the character development. Very simply put, Amanda lacked depth. While I was hoping Amanda would eventually become a strong, independent young woman, she remained spineless throughout the novel. Being a static character, she never quite mustered up enough courage to stand up for h
Aug 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: drama, family
At first, I hated this book. I picked the book up because of the cover and the summary looked kind of stupid. It was the only book I borrowed from the library, so I was like, "Okay, might as well read it." I read the beginning of the book and it was actually pretty bad. Anna was trying to lose her virginity just to gain popularity and The Boss (her mother) seemed to neglect her. I was thinking, "What the heck is she (The Boss) thinking?"

However, as I continued reading, I realized that despite t
Mrs. Hagedorn Hagedorn
Official book description : "THE SMART THING Is to Prepare for the Unexpected.
So reads the fortune cookie fortune that Amanda receives at the beginning of her family’s vacation to Florida. Amanda knows all about preparing for the unexpected—her mother, whom she calls The Captain, is always hard on Amanda, and it’s just when Amanda lets her guard down that the very worst comes through. Looking for acceptance, Amanda turns her attention to boys, and doing whatever she can to be popular at school.
Aug 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: any girl who wants to understand her mom a little bit better
Shelves: realistic
Excellent story of a mother and daughter relationship that is rocky but real. Sophomore Amanda Himmelfarb has a lot of issues with "The Captain," as she secretly calls her stern no-nonsense mother, who has 500 Rules to follow and who long ago stopped hugging her oldest daughter or showing much affection. Amanda has issues with her perfect younger sister, "Malady", too, and this summer everything seems to go from bad to worse. All Amanda really wants is close personal time with a hot guy--and she ...more
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I read this once before and thought it was good but nothing really special. Re-reading it changed my mind a bit. I'm not saying that it is the best book ever now, I just see it in a different light. I just with the fact that I haven't seen my own mother in a while that I was able to really see the different relationship mother and daughters have without thinking about how different mine is with my own mother. It made me miss my mother more than I already do.
Though at times, I had a hard time wi
Dec 11, 2008 rated it liked it
I found the jacket copy description of this book to be rather misleading. The summary makes it out to be a story of losing ones virginity and the consequences of decisions about sex, but the story really is much more about Amanda and her mother trying to understand each other. Neither story line felt entirely compelling to me, as the book was a very fast read and didn't spend as much time as it could have on either problem.

Amanda is a witty and chatty narrator, so that made it fun to read, as we
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I got so emotional with this. not like crying, but like fear and happy and anxiety but I loved it so much
May 27, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
loved this. some thoughts:
-the cover both frightens me and cracks me up (that look on her face!)
-i liked that this falls into the category of "problem novel" but was still unlike anything i'd read before
-i love how fleshed out the characters are. especially amanda's mom. so nice to get her side of the story and see why she was the way she was.
-amanda herself was so real to me. the way she behaves with guys, the poems she writes, everything. reminds me of myself in high school, i suppose.

all in
Sep 25, 2008 rated it liked it
Another book of teen angst. In this one, Amanda is unhappy with her hair, her mother, and her lack of boyfriend. When she decides that getting a boyfriend will solve all her problems (some of which aren't even hers to solve) she risks everything to achieve her goal. It's like watching a train wreck. You know what's coming, but can't look away. The characters were alternately heartless and cold, or emotional and out of control. It made for an interesting read, but not my favorite.
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this book down. I needed to know how Amanda was going to turn out in the end, and unfortunatley it was just too pat of an ending. It wrapped up too nicely. But I loved the drama and intensity of the book. The anger, pain, and dysfuntion of the family was at times hard to take, but it also just pulled you in.
May 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book
I didn't really like this book. It made me realize even more how much I love my mom because if I had her mom I would be dead, cause I would have killed myself. The girl in the book is really dumb too. I mean seriously? Lets just give a bj to every guy that says I look hot. I also feel a little bad for her too but not very...
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Unraveling 1 11 Jul 22, 2008 06:15PM  

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Michelle Baldini is Project Coordinator for the School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University where her main goal is to facilitate successful collaboration between the school library media specialist and classroom teacher. She graduated with her masters in library science, specializing in children’s literature, from Long Island University.
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