Reviewed by Melanie K.

Zen and Xander Undone is a coming of age story of two teenage sisters and their family learning to cope a year after their mother’s death.

Xander is the older wild child who escapes into drinking, drugs, sex and trouble.  Zen, the younger “good” girl, concentrates her energy on practicing and teaching martial arts and trying to look after her older sister. Their father has an extremely difficult time dealing with his wife’s death. On a sabbatical from his job at the university, he retreats to the basement, seldom coming out to shower, dress or interact with the girls. Grandma rarely approves of their actions and has a flatulence problem that she deals with by pretending that it never happened. Aunt Doris devotes her time to painting and recreational marijuana to recover from her sister’s death.

The girls happen upon some information that leads them to believe that their mother may have had an extramarital affair when they were very young. They dive whole-heartedly into an investigation that not only causes them to commit illegal acts, but also to sneak out and travel many hundreds of miles away.

Zen and Xander Undone is witty, fast paced and full of sarcastic humor sure to make you smile, if not laugh out loud. The story is written for young adults and touches on many issues that they may be dealing with. The girls’ antics ring true and keep you wondering just what they will get into next. The girls suffer from typical teenage sister rivalries, but are always there for each other in the end.

For more information, please visit Amy Kathleen Ryan’s website.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.