Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tighter by Adele Griffin

Tighter by Adele Griffin

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release: May 10, 2011
Source: Library
When 17-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that precedes her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl—and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly? As the secrets of the house wrap tighter and tighter around her, Jamie must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead.

Brilliantly plotted, with startling twists, here is a thrilling page-turner from the award-winning Adele Griffin.
Little Bly is a postcard picture of sun-bleached sand and blue sky for miles, fresh-fried crab and the smell of sunscreen, beautiful people with windswept hair and sparkling summer mansions. Idyllic and closely-knit, it is the quintessential image of paradise, a town marred by nothing but a hint of upper-class snobbery. Its summer residents are serene and carefree, ensconced in their island's bubble of bliss.

Yes, Little Bly could not be a more enticing vacation destination for the extremely wealthy. But even more so, it could not be a more fitting backdrop for the twisted, thrilling tale that Adele Griffin weaves in Tighter. The island's sunlight and perfection contrast with the story's darkness and grittiness, highlighting every nuance of eeriness.

The setting integrates itself into the mystery, expanding the plot from exposing the details of a girl's death to exposing the details of the island as a whole. As Jamie peels back the layers of the dead girl's story—her tumultuous romances, her free-spirited personality, her shocking death—she also deconstructs Little Bly's flawless image. The island has its share of tragedy and secrets lurking just beneath its exterior, and each new clue proves that its residents are not always as happy and safe as they may seem. Watching Little Bly's gnarled curls of darkness burst through its enameled outer coating will fascinate readers even more than watching the dead girl's mystery unfold.

Even more eerie than the mystery is the protagonist's narration; true to her signature style, Adele Griffin creates a dangerously unreliable narrator. Perpetually laced with prescription drugs and prone to visions of the dead, Jamie's consciousness cannot be trusted. Each page will have readers guessing whether they can rely on the clues she finds or the conclusions she draws—and if anything she sees or says is real. The setting emphasizes Jamie's visions and paranoia; against a backdrop of tranquil vacationers, her anything-but-relaxed mental state seems exceptionally harsh and abnormal.

The thrilling mystery and haunting narration combine to create a story that, when overlaid with the setting's whimsical fa├žade, seems like something out of a Brothers Grimm fairytale—a dangerous version of a well-known, lighthearted story. Thanks to its masterful play between light and dark, Tighter may be the best Griffin book I have read to date. Its mystery enticed me, its setting entranced me, and now neither one will let me go.


  1. I've never read an Adele Griffin before and this is the first time I'm hearing of Tighter, but this sounds good. I do like a good mystery and this looks quite eerie. Might have to check this out. Great review!

  2. I actually haven't heard of the author before either, but this sounds incredibly creepy and delicious! Even the more popular YA thrillers don't seem to have that awe factor anymore and end up being too predictable, the fact that you even can't trust the narration? I have to grab a copy of this one.

    Brilliant review, I'm completely sold <3


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