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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
A Tangled Web is a novella written by M.L. Sparrow. Teenage girl, Hayashi Taiyo, has been best friends with twin boys, Ryuu and Kairi, for most of her life. Although physically identical, the boys’ personalities couldn’t be more different. Kairi is completely no-nonsense, spending almost all of his free time studying, whilst his brother, Ryuu, is a mischief-maker who enjoys having fun, but not at the expense of others. After Taiyo’s friend, Aya, is involved in an accident, she begins dating Ryuu, much to Taiyo’s dismay. When asked on a double-date with Kairi, Ryuu and Aya, Taiyo accepts, but her affection for Ryuu is discovered. The fallout between the small group of friends is massive due to a web of lies woven by Taiyo, which she’d hoped would prevent people being hurt. With friendships frayed and torn, Ryuu and Taiyo decide to play hooky from school, which unwittingly lands them at the epicenter of a major earthquake, before being faced with their worst nightmare, in the form of a 13-meter wave.
With Japanese terminology being used throughout, both in dialogue and descriptions, as well as a highly useful glossary of each of those Japanese words provided at the back of the book, I found I was easily transported to a culturally realistic time and place in Japan. Most of M.L. Sparrow’s tale deals with typical everyday drama in a teenager’s life, inclusive of love, friendship, and respect. The Japanese culture shines through, showing how very different it is to other cultures and mannerisms around the world. What I most loved in this book was how it showed the clear difference between superficial love and true love, while also showing that disabilities do not make anyone less of a person. True love can withstand and overcome any obstacle. I found A Tangled Web to be very entertaining reading. My eyes were opened to the very real and terrifying everyday hazards of life in Japan, such as frequent earthquakes and (thankfully) not-so-frequent tsunamis, as well as the alert system used by those who live permanently in Japan. I recommend A Tangled Web to readers aged 12-18 who enjoy drama, friendship, love, tragedy and romance in their reads, especially when entwined with a different culture.