Latest Read: Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding

Here are the basics ...
Ink is Thicker Than Water by Amy Spalding
Publication date: Dec. 3, 2013
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC from publisher via Netgalley (Thanks!)

Summary: 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 overlooked and stuck in the middle. When Kellie’s sister 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 but intense college guy she had a near hookup with last year. But as she discovers that maybe intensity isn’t always a good thing. 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. (Adapted
My thoughts…
The good: The author brings together so many interesting and different elements to Ink is Thicker Than Water. There's best friends growing apart, getting serious about a guy for the first time, figuring out who you are, family, divorce, adoption, even a tattoo shop. But the best part was the focus on family. It's a rarity in YA contemporary novels but Ink is overflowing with mother, sister, daughter, father and brother moments.

Kelli's family has always been unique. Her parents met when they were both lawyers, adopted her older sister Sara and then they had her. Then one day her mom quit her job, realized her calling as a tattoo artist, divorced her dad, married Russell (also a tattoo artist) and together they opened an extremely successful shop. And they had a kid, so Kelli has a 4 year-old brother too. It seems crazy but it's a dynamic that worked so well. Her mom is amazing. Think Lorelai Gilmore cool except with tattoos and less pop culture references. She believes in being honest with her family and letting them, particularly her daughters, make their own decisions. (Can you tell I adored Kelli's mom?) But it's her father she finds herself struggling with. For his approval, for his attention. I felt Kelli's frustration clearly. But what shakes up their family is Sara seeking out her birth mother, which was more affecting that I expected. There was a part of me that agreed with Kelli's feelings of anger towards her sister and another that thought, Sara has a right to find out where she comes from without all the drama. It's not easy for anyone and I enjoyed how all the different feelings were explored.

Then, Kelli and her best friend are having trouble growing up without growing apart. I related to that feeling of wanting everything to stay the same but needing to understand not all change is bad. And just because you've changed, it doesn't mean you can't be friends anymore. They both make mistakes and miscommunicate and while the way they both acted frustrated me at times, that's the reality of the situation. I thought it was portrayed very, very well.

(Some) reservations: At this point you're probably wondering why I haven't mentioned anything directly about Kelli yet. The truth is, for more than half the book, I wasn't sure how I felt about her. When she develops an interest in writing for the school paper, she's embarrassed to admit she likes it. She tries so hard to look like she's not trying which I couldn't relate to (based on my own overachieving experiences!). Then she has all these people who are open to communicating with her and she even tells herself, honesty is the best policy like a million times. But it takes her about 3/4th of the book to actually start following that philosophy. Telling the truth isn't always easy but her pattern of not speaking her mind dragged on for a bit too long. When she did finally speak her mind, I seriously wanted to jump for joy. There's also a romance in the book but I felt pretty neutral toward it. For me, the family aspect took center stage.

Do I recommend?: I was so in love with the author's first book, The Reece Malcolm List (which you should read if you haven't!), and I was expecting the same kind of reaction here but I didn't quite get it. It just wasn't for me but if a wonderful family and a tattoo shop interests you, it could be worth checking out.

Happy reading!


  1. Hmmm. I, like you, loved The Reece Malcolm List and was really excited about reading this one. It sounds good, but not something I'd need to rush to get or anything. To me it kind of sounds like there's a lot going on. I guess we'll have to see if I decide to read this one or not. I do like your review btw :)

  2. I'm reading this one right now, and so far, I agree with all the good stuff you've had to say! It remains to be seen what I end up feeling about it, but so far, so good. I love that it's got a strong family focus, though -- definitely makes it a good book already!


with love,