Author: Torrey Maldonado
Hardcover: 177 pages
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
“Bryan knows what’s tight for him –reading comics, drawing superheroes, and hanging out with no drama. But drama is every day where he’s from, and that gets him tight, wound up.
And now Bryan’s friend Mike pressures him with ideas of fun that are crazy risky. At first, it’s a rush following Mike, hopping turnstiles, subway surfing, and getting into all kinds of trouble. But Bryan never really feels right acting so wrong, and drama really isn’t him. So which way will he go, especially when his dad tells him it’s better to be hard and feared than liked?
But if there’s one thing Bryan’s gotten from his comic heroes, it’s that he has power – to stand up for what he feels.”
Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a middle-grade fiction, let alone a fantastic middle-grade fiction. Thankfully, I was introduced to this little gem.
TIGHT is an insightful observation of peer pressure and how it affects one’s personal behaviors and decision-making. And though this book features a young protagonist, the themes and messages explored can be applied to all age groups.
Bryan is an excellent character. His dilemma in maintaining a friendship that causes him stress is a relatable experience that we’ve all had before and as I read his thoughts, I couldn’t help but sympathize as he tried to reason to himself and justify Mike’s erratic (and dangerous) behavior.
There comes a time when we all force ourselves to do something we aren’t entirely comfortable with doing in order to save face, be cool, or to just push ourselves to be spontaneous for no discernable reason, and this book does well to highlight these moments in our lives.
Not only does the author manage to illuminate these natural faults as part of a maturing process, but he also takes the time to explore the consequences of reacting to a situation in a harmful way, particularly in a physically violent way. There is value in verbally expressing oneself, and Maldonado wants readers to consider this, to consider that there is a way to be at peace with oneself and with others. And this can be achieved by being true, by listening to your conscience, by being negotiable, and by expressing your emotions so that they aren’t bottled up until you explode.
There are other wonderful aspects to this story. Maldonado spotlights adolescent life in the city or in low-income areas and gives a voice to the Latino/Black urban community. Incarceration of a parent is not a topic the author shies away from, neither is the topic of parental upset in a household, as well as bullying in several forms. But he softens these blows with heartwarming images of family bonds, depictions of healthy friendships, learning from mistakes, and the discovery of inner strength.
I can go on an on about what a wonderful source of discussion TIGHT brings to the table, but I think at this point you’d just have to read it for yourself. The only possible setback for some readers I can think of is that the language used is very colloquial and full of slang. It was a bit hard to get used to but I’d urge readers to take their time with it and after a couple chapters, they won’t notice a thing. The language, like the setting and the characters, gains a life all its own.
All in all, this is a fantastic book that can be read by all generations and would make for some really solid reading material for middle graders as well as high schoolers and teachers who want to know a bit more about life and its complexities in diverse communities.
About the Author
“Torrey Maldonado, the author of the critically acclaimed Secret Sadness, is a teacher in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born, raised, and lives. His books reflect his students’ and his experiences.”
Thanks for stopping by! But before you go, take a sec and stop by Bri’s Book Nook for another lovely review of TIGHT!
Until next time ❤