Double Helix by Nancy Werlin

February 22, 2011
By Pooja Patel BRONZE, Edison, New Jersey
Pooja Patel BRONZE, Edison, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Double Helix
Title: Double Helix
Author: Nancy Werlin
Published: NY, New York: Penguin Group, 2004
248 Pages
The title of this book is Double Helix and it’s by Nancy Werlin. This book is about a young, 18 year old boy, Eli, whose mother has Huntington’s disease; she’s in the hospital. Eli and his father have grown apart over the years due to a letter addressed to his father that Eli read without asking, and even though his dad doesn’t know that he read it, Eli is still very upset with him. This book’s content are better suited for older teenagers. The vocabulary that it consists of has many scientific words that are hard to understand at times. I thought that in some places of the story, things got a little confusing.

One night, while Eli was drunk, he e-mailed Dr. Quincy Wyatt, the world known, legendary scientist. When he got a response from the agency, saying that the scientist wanted to meet with him, he was shocked. Little did he know, that what started out as a one- year job with an amazing salary, would change his life forever. Through out the story we learn how Eli and his father get closer towards the end and the one decision that Eli’s mother made… to literally make him who he is today.

One of the problems in the story is Eli himself. He and his father just don’t get along. They haven’t for a while now. He Eli doesn’t make many attempts to fix his messed up relationship with his dad, instead, he keeps everything bottled up inside causing his anger for his dad to worsen. Also, since Eli’s mother is in the hospital, he visits her every week, and he may think that, as a son that’s all that he needs to do, but it isn’t. While visiting with her, all he can think about is along the lines of, “I wish she were dead. (pg76).” He went on and said that he didn’t know whose suffering it would end, but he still said that he wanted her dead. He was so embarrassed by her that he wouldn’t even talk about her with his girlfriend Vivian. Eli also had many problems with Viv. In the beginning he would say that she was pretty just the way she was, but after he met Kayla he started comparing the two. To him Kayla was “perfection (pg.95)” While Viv had many “flaws.”

Double Helix isn’t very age appropriate. It has Eli thinking about waving condom wrappers in front of Viv’s face to try to cheer her up and make her laugh and he also almost cheated on his long time girlfriend. I think that it isn’t age appropriate because like the many 13-14 year old guys who read this book in my class, other guys, or even girls would laugh or be grossed out at words like “condom.” This book is teaching its young readers the wrong things. Having younger teens read about Eli almost cheating on his girlfriend would give them the message that it’s okay to do this. The author should’ve made it clear that this book is for the older teens, not middle school students.
For older people, this book is really good, but at times it seems like for an 18 year old, Eli sure does have a lot of problems. The book did keep me captivated through its many twists and turns, however towards the end, when the author tried explaining what was going on, it got confusing; it could’ve just been the way that the author explained it- by having Eli think of it in his head. There were also some unneeded things going on. For example, Eli met a kid who was playing outside by himself, and even though at first he was nice to him, he wanted to teach the kid a “lesson” so he acted really mean towards the kid. What I don’t understand is that why did he have such a big problem with the kid? Why was the kid even included in this story? One -of- the things that I didn’t like about this story was the ending. The ending left you wondering about what happened to some people, such as Dr. Wyatt, Judith Ryan, and the three scientists that escaped with them. I don’t think that Eli and his father would be able to get a complete closure without knowing what happened to them. Yet when I think about it, they would never be able to get a closure and move on from what happened, especially for Eli because he is a part of it. I felt that this kind of a problem- an evil Scientist doing these types of experiments- was an unfamiliar situation. The possibility of a Scientist doing this kind of thing is evident with all the new technology and inventions, but it’s still very uncommon. The experience that Eli went through is not something that happens to someone everyday, or even once in a while; it made it surreal for me because it wasn’t something that I could relate to, yet depending on the types of books you like, you might even like this one.
Over all, the author used many various writing styles in her story. Not only did she use details to “show” rather than “tell,” she used symbolism, foreshadowing, and serotypes. There was the stereotypical evil scientist, and the stereotypical model type girl who the main character fell for. There was symbolism such as the symbolism of how Eli’s dad’s jacket didn’t fit him because he outgrew it just like he outgrew his dad. There was even foreshadowing of how certain people were related through older pictures. Like I have repeatedly said before, this book is better suited for older kids. It would be less confusing for them and they might actually be able to relate with things like not having a smooth relationship with their parents or girlfriend problems. Though I thought this book was confusing and didn’t like it for my age, depending on the age of the reader (you), you might really enjoy it and find it a rollercoaster full of twists and turns, and even be surprised at many points. I know that I was!

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