Ink is Thicker Than Water: review

December 3, 2013 2013, 4 star books, amy spalding, contemporary 18 ★★★★

Ink is Thicker Than Water: reviewInk is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding
Published by Entangled Teen on December 3, 2013
Genres: contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
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.

With her second novel in a year (busy girl!), Amy Spalding delivers on the expectations she set with her debut,  The Reece Malcolm Listwhich, you might recall, I adored.

In Ink is Thicker than Water, Spalding succeeds again in creating teenage characters that feel honest and authentic. They sound like teenagers, they think like teenagers, and their problems are those that real teenagers have to navigate in their daily lives. There’s something infinitely relatable about her character that I find nostalgic; her books remind me what it like to be a teenager.

I appreciated that the central conflict focused on Kellie’s family dynamics. While Kellie’s family is anything but the usual–straight-laced lawyerly dad whose approval she can never quite earn, hippie tattoo-shop-owning mother and stepfather, beautiful brainiac adopted sister–their problems are. Her sister, her confidante and parter, growing up and finding an identity outside of her role in their family. While the details may be unique to fiction, the feelings are the same that any teenager goes through–trying to find your balance while your foundation and sense of self shifts. The growth Kellie shows throughout the story is so well-written. As she, and almost everyone around her, discovers new facets to themselves, they become richer, fuller versions of themselves in a way that is fluid and natural and right.

Ink is much less romance-driven than Reece–or maybe it’s just that the romance is quieter and more realistic than swoontastic–but it fit the story perfectly. Oliver was adorable and weird. (Perfect for the adorable and weird Kellie.) There were no grand gestures, and no overblown drama. Just real, awkward, messy teenage romance. And I loved–LOVEDDDD–the way the topic of Kellie’s virginity was handled. It was so honest. No trite afterschool special language. No candles and rose petals. Just real life. And it was perfect.

Spalding has a natural and honest voice, and isn’t afraid to tackle the big issues on small scales that make up the life of a teenager so interesting. I’d recommend her to fans of Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, and Sarah Dessen.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review.

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18 Responses to “Ink is Thicker Than Water: review”

  1. Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

    I wanted to like Ink is Thicker Than Water but I felt kind of mislead. Maybe it was because I was expecting it to be a romance but like you said it was mainly focused on the family dynamics. Had I realized I would’ve set my expectations accordingly. I might go back and read it eventually.
    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books recently posted…All That Glows (Review)

  2. Sunny

    I’m not crazy about the cover, but I now want to read this one even more after your review! I so wanted to read her previous book and still haven’t been able to, but this sounds equally fantastic. Realistic aspects and writing is a major plus for me (with the virginity and romance and family parts). Great review, I can’t wait to read this one!
    Sunny recently posted…Review: THESE BROKEN STARS by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

  3. Jasprit

    I loved this story too Tonya, maybe even a smidge more than The Reece Malcolm List. Spalding did an amazing job at bringing Kellie’s relationship’s to life, I found myself totally caught up in her troubles and wanting everything to work out for her. I also appreciated Spalding giving us a romance that was more realistic too, I am a big fan of swoon, but the relationship between Oliver and Kellie definitely left a lasting impression with me. Gorgeous review!
    Jasprit recently posted…Bookish Survey: Cast a Harry Potter Spell: Part one.

  4. Rashika

    I’ve had The Reece Malcolm List on my TBR list for a while but haven’t been able to get around to reading it. Hearing such good things about Ink is Thicker than Water, I think I should move it up my list and get around to it asap and then.. read this one :D

    Great Review Tonya! :D

  5. A Canadian Girl

    Finally back from my blogging break!

    I haven’t read The Reece Malcolm List but I was interested in reading this because Kellie’s family sounds really interesting and like the fact that family is a big topic in this one. I’m glad you enjoyed this, Tonya. I’m a fan of all the other authors you mentioned similar to Spalding so I’ll definitely be checking this one out now.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Mini Reviews: Hooked by Liz Fichera and Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins

  6. Kate Bond

    Oooooooh. Sounds nice. I like the idea of more of a focus on the family dynamics.

    And the treatment of losing one’s virginity is something that generally drives me up the freaking wall in books because I don’t think sex has to be a huge scary deal, and I really like when there’s at least a nod to the use of condoms and the fact that the first few times tend to be more awkward than anything else.

    Also: Did you know that the phrase “blood is thicker that water” originally meant the opposite of what it means now? It meant that swearing a blood oath to someone meant more than growing in the same tummy. I love that so, so much.
    Kate Bond recently posted…The Promise of Amazing: review

    • tonya

      I hope you do! And check out her debut, The Reece Malcolm List too. It’s super cute and swoony, with a musical theatre bent.

    • tonya

      I’m sorry you weren’t able to connect with this one! Have you read her other release?

    • tonya

      I’m so glad you did; it’s still one of my favorites of the year. I think you’ll really enjoy INK as well. It has a similar voice, but a bit understated.

    • tonya

      Yay! I hope you love it as much as I did. I really love contemporary stories that feel real. Some tend to go to extremes with scenarios that seem so improbable I have a hard time enjoying them. I love Amy Spalding and Stephanie Perkins for writing stories on smaller scales, and focusing more on character than showy plot to move the story forward.