Goodreads: A Tangle of Knots
In a world where nearly everyone possesses a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady, who lives at the orphanage, has a special knack for baking. But though she can match the perfect cake to the right person, Cady fears that the orphanage director will never be able to match her with a family. Then one day a man arrives and takes Cady home, where her life entwines with those of her fellow boarders–a girl searching for her Talent, a woman searching for her voice, and a man searching for a lost heirloom. Can they all help each other or will their lives unravel like a poorly tied knot?
A Tangle of Knots attempts to tie together the stories of several different characters, including a thief, a girl looking for her Talent, a woman with memory loss, and a man running from his past. However, though the threads of the stories get sorted in the end, the book lacks some of the cleverness that I think it believes it possesses. The interweaving of the stories could have used more subtlety and maintained a little more mystery. Instead, the narrative provided so many clues and broad hints that the magic was lost and I continued reading, not because I was intrigued, but because I kept hoping in vain that the story would get better.
From what I can tell, this book has received many a positive review and it is quite possible that the reviewers have in mind the middle school audience to which the book is marketed. However, even as a middle schooler I would have found the plots too broad and obvious; I would have wanted a little more suspense. Had the characters interested me more I would not have cared so much about the plot, but the book does not balance its large cast of characters well. Instead, the perspective switches after about every two or three pages, allowing little time for character details to emerge and little time for character development. I really wanted to love these characters, but ultimately I felt I did not know them well enough.
Lisa Graff really impressed me with her sensitivity and subtlety in Lost in the Sun and I picked up this book with a lot of anticipation. However, I think Lost in the Sun succeeds because it does not attempt to be clever, only to tell a story honestly. I hope Graff continues in that vein with her future work.