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The Tension of Opposites

The Tension of Opposites

4.2 16
by Kristina McBride

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When Tessa's best friend Noelle disappears right before the start of eighth grade, Tessa's life changes completely--she shies away from her other friends and stops eating in the cafeteria. Now, two years later, Noelle has escaped her captivity and is coming home, in one piece but not exactly intact, and definitely different. Tessa's life is about to change again as


When Tessa's best friend Noelle disappears right before the start of eighth grade, Tessa's life changes completely--she shies away from her other friends and stops eating in the cafeteria. Now, two years later, Noelle has escaped her captivity and is coming home, in one piece but not exactly intact, and definitely different. Tessa's life is about to change again as she tries to revive the best-friendship the two girls had shared before Noelle--now Elle--was kidnapped; puts up a futile resistance to the charming new guy at school; pursues her passion for photography while trying to build the bravado to show her photos to the public; and tries to balance her desire to protect and shelter Elle with the necessity to live her own life and put herself first.

“Tense! The constant push and pull of friendship, pain, love, and jealousy is beautifully drawn. A definite must read.”
– Jay Asher

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Two years after the abduction of her best friend Noelle, sophomore Tessa has changed her entire life, isolating herself from friends and avoiding dating. So when Noelle miraculously returns, having found a way to have her kidnapper arrested, Tessa hopes to pick up where they left off and do all she can to ease Noelle’s return to their hometown. But Noelle now goes by Elle, and she doesn’t want Tessa’s help. Meanwhile, Max, a boy in Tessa’s photography class who she can’t help falling for, can’t stand to see Tessa keep putting Elle ahead of herself. Tessa’s pain is realistically drawn, and her recovery—which still pales with what Elle has to deal with—is authentic and hard-won; debut author McBride effectively uses Tessa’s love of photography as an expression of her growth. Tessa’s concern for what she sees as poor choices on Elle’s part (such as throwing herself into a relationship with an obnoxious football player), as well as her questions about Elle’s captivity create true tension in a well-paced story with some emotional punches that really connect. Ages 14–up. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 6–10—Aspiring photographer Tessa McMullen's world was turned upside down two years ago when her best friend was abducted. Noelle has now escaped and been reunited with her family, but is much changed. She insists on being called Elle and is sullen, uncommunicative, and not at all interested in reestablishing the friendship. Tessa, meanwhile, put her life on hold during Noelle's absence and feels guilty about her growing attraction to fellow photographer Max. Eventually Tessa breaks through her friend's reserve, but Noelle/Elle continues to act in self-destructive ways. The first half of this novel is emotionally compelling and psychologically insightful, as readers get glimpses of both the nature of the accommodations Elle has had to endure in order to survive, and of the way in which Tessa is beginning to forge a more realistic view of the friend she formerly idealized. Unfortunately, the second half shifts into a kind of "Mean Girls" mode, as Elle's play for the big man on campus and resulting confrontation with his queen-bee girlfriend take center stage, and the ending is confusing. Ultimately, readers gain no real understanding of the effect of Elle's ordeal on who she is or may become.—Richard Luzer, Fair Haven Union High School, VT

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
HL730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Kristina McBride is a debut author who lives with her family in Centerville, OH. A high school English teacher and yearbook advisor, Kristina wrote The Tension of Opposites in response to the abduction and safe return of eleven-year-old Shawn Hornbeck, who in 2002, was kidnapped while riding his bike to a friend's house.

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The Tension of Opposites 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Tessa and Noelle had been best friends for as long as either could remember. They were ripped apart two years ago when Noelle disappeared. All that was left was her bike abandoned on the sidewalk. For two years, Tessa spent every waking moment thinking about Noelle and missing her. She carried on but refused to enjoy life without her best friend. Suddenly, life has changed. Noelle has returned. Against the predicted odds from law enforcement officials and other similar cases, she escaped her captor. Tessa can hardly believe it's true. It's like she can finally live again, too. Dreams of a joyous reunion and catching up on all they've missed together over two years are all Tessa can think about. Instead, she discovers her friend is refusing to see her. Understandable in the beginning, but as the weeks go by, Tessa can't comprehend why Noelle stays hidden away. When she finally gains access, she is puzzled by Noelle's reaction. One of the first things the kidnap victim insists is that she wants to be known as Elle, not Noelle, and that's not all that's changed. Tessa finds out Elle has not been hiding from everyone, but rather sneaking out at night on risky adventures, and the more Tessa observes, the more concerned she becomes. Loyalty to Elle is complicated by the fact that Tessa has met Max. At first, he was just the new guy and her partner in photography class, but he's different and beginning to fill a special place in Tessa's life. Elle seems happy for her, but Tessa is torn between enjoying her new relationship and being there for the still emotionally fragile Elle. Described as "a haunting psychological thriller," THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES is one you will want to get your hands on this summer. Author Kristina McBride delves into the minds of her characters to illustrate that trauma takes its toll on victims and survivors alike. Elle may have been the victim of a horrendous kidnapping, but those left behind before her return lived with their own trauma, as well. Even a so-called "happy ending" has its complications, too. Readers will remember this one long after they turn the final page.
Burg More than 1 year ago
When I heard that Kristina McBride got her inspiration for this novel from a real kidnapping that took place I became hesitant to read it. I know it isn't right to want to remain ignorant of the horrors that happen on a daily basis in the world, but sometimes I have to block it all out to be able to sleep at night. Meeting Tessa in this book, who's best friend Noelle was kidnapped and then came home after two years was interesting. Tessa felt as if she couldn't move forward because of what happened to Noelle and was also incredibly guarded after the incident. It was tough to read but even harder to imagine going through a situation like that personally. Anyone who picks up this book has to know it's going to be an emotional read but at times the intensity still took me by surprise. McBride gives readers a chance to look at how these kinds of traumas affect not only the victim of the crime but also the victim's family and friends. It's an intense depiction of a terrifying situation and the aftermath few hear much about. On a slightly lighter note, I will say I really enjoyed the relationship between Tessa and Max. It was a slight reprieve and I appreciated that. It was portrayed in a realistic light which flowed nicely with the development of the story as a whole. There was a lot of growth and understanding throughout. This is not a light and easy or quick read in my opinion, but I've never been a crime scene show type of girl either. I'm glad I got the chance to read it not to mention how much I enjoyed McBride's writing. I'm hoping this debut is only the beginning for her because I would love to read more of her work in the future.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy read, good character development, entertaining.
plus-and__ More than 1 year ago
I really like the book "the Tension of Opposites."
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A_Good_Addiction More than 1 year ago
Gripping, painful and emotional sum this book up at its core. A situation no parent or teen ever wants to find themselves in forms the basis of this book, playing out in a very raw way. For two years, Noelle has been held captive by a predator, doing unthinkable things to and with her- many of which the reader never finds out but learns enough to know Noelle never stood a chance of coming away unchanged. Calloused and numb, the reader gets only glimpses of the girl who was taken through her best friend's memories, instead meeting a brash, bold and unflinching girl named Elle. Elle is the most defining part of this book for me as the reader learns about her struggles through the eyes of Tessa, giving the outsider's perspective that drives things. The reader will feel the same frustrations and confusion as Tessa, torn between a grotesque desire to learn the details of her captivity and wanting only to shelter and protect her. An urge to push things back to normalcy will connect the reader with Tessa, forging a strong bond that tugs from the start. Tessa is written in an almost painful manner, having given up much of her own life after Noelle's disappearance. Wracked with guilt over Noelle's unknown fate, Tessa finds herself fading away as much as her best friend did. Hiding behind the lens of a camera, Tessa remains in the background until a new student shows up at school. Compounding this is Noelle's sudden and unexpected return, only to experience the same wrenching feelings to learn her best friend is nothing like the girl she remembers. This book chronicles Tessa's internal battles and struggles as much as it does Elle's, bringing them head to head in a shocking fashion. Max, the love interest and new guy who tests Tessa, is certainly swoon worthy but underneath his cute personality and curls lies a determined young man who knows what he wants and will go for it. Understanding for the most part, Max begins to fail the same tension and battle as Tessa- except he's fighting to keep Tessa with him while she struggles to keep Elle. As things progress, the reader will find themselves torn between Max and Tessa, understanding both sides but unable to root whole heartedly for one over the other. The connections between the characters are strong and taut, weaving them together in many ways- some of which aren't outwardly visible. Severing one tie does not cut all completely, instead often thrusting another into the light, and the back and forth motion will keep make the reader feel as convoluted as the characters. The title of this book fits brilliantly, having multiple meanings throughout the book and helping to driving the plot. With raw, intricate writing that is rapt with striking imagery, a wrenching but painfully realistic plot and characters that are too young to be facing these situations yet have been thrust carelessly into them at the hand of one man make this book a worth it though heartrending read. An emotional roller coaster with a few missing sections of track, this is a book that will gut but leave the reader changed. The development of the characters is profound and the final pages are welcomed if only for relief from the world created. This isn't a book for the fainthearted as it hits on very rough issues but it is, undoubtedly, worth the emotions. This is a very stunning debut highlighting elaborate characters, stunning writing and a mastery of human emotion and turmoil and easily one for the Best Reads shel
La_Femme_Readers More than 1 year ago
The Tension of Opposites was a heartbreaking story about the aftermath of a kidnapping. The distress and raw emotions behind the plot was perfectly executed. News channels always mention kidnappings but, they don't normally focus on the victim's state of mind. So, I admired that Kristina took that route. I enjoyed picking through the ups and downs of Noelle's mind. Tessa, Noelle's best friend, was a fantastic character. I loved her determination and continuous support for Noelle. It's hard to see someone you love change dramatically after a tragic event. Patience was key to understanding the changes that Noelle was going through and Tessa was the right person to stand by her side. This book not only was emotional but also had romance in it. Tessa never really cared about her feelings and just remained a true, selfless friend towards Noelle. However, that slowly changed once she met Max. He was absolutely adorable and a great energy to be around. I think he played a huge role in helping Tessa through her difficult friendship with Noelle. Overall, this book simply hooked me in and left me feeling satisfied. It was creative and well-balanced. I haven't seen this idea in YA before and I am grateful to have read this innovative debut. I look forwarding to read more works by Kristina since her writing is highly delightful.
kittydanza More than 1 year ago
THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES, by Kristina McBride, was a bone-chilling thriller that explores the ripple-effect that a kidnapping creates. Although Noelle was kidnapped two years prior, her best friend, Tessa, held onto the hope that she was still alive and would come back home. When Noelle's brother told Tessa that Noelle was found and coming home, she believed that her friend was back but the opposite was true. I really enjoyed this book. There were two stories that revolved around Tessa, one with Max and the other with Noelle, AKA Elle. Tessa did not want to move on with her life because it felt wrong that Elle couldn't move on while she was gone. But when Tessa met Max, she finally found someone she could really connect with. At the same time, she was trying to protect Elle when she didn't need protecting. I also liked the added element of photography. The artistic eye that both Tessa and Max had added to their charm as a couple. And the assignment that was lingering over them throughout the book really tied it all in. The resulting project for Tessa was really fantastic. Her experiences with Max and Elle gave her a new perspective on life in the hope that she might be able to finally let go of "Noelle". The kidnapping had such an effect on all the characters, it was a bit startling to deal with at first. Elle was very unpredictable. It was heart-breaking to learn what she went through during the two years she was gone and it made her so strong, but I waited for her to snap at any moment. This young girl grew up very quickly and it was difficult to deal with for everyone around her. But I love how through it all, both Elle and Tessa realized that nothing could ever go back to what it was, but something new and beautiful could be created. This book is definitely a must-read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Original review can be found here: http://bclement412.blogspot.com/2010/03/review-tension-of-opposites-by-kristina.html First off, let me say that I hold high expectations for a book. I'm picky, so to actually pick a book up, I expect to love it. Most don't live up to these somewhat ridiculous high standards. Not only did the Tension of Opposites live up to those expectations, but exceeded them. Kristina McBride made it seem seamless the way she wriggled herself into the mind of a girl, Tessa, whose best friend Noelle was kidnapped and then returned two years later. She describes Tessa's fear of strangers that has budded since the kidnapping as though it were her own, which contributed to the impressive creep factor. It was refreshing to have Tessa ease into a relationship, not instantly fall in love with the love interest because he's attractive. The best way to describe this is in Tessa's own words: "I tried to keep from noticing how beautiful he was because thoughts like those can make you vulnerable, leave you open for attack. Having a squared jaw, smooth skin, and full lips certainly didn't make him safe." My one complaint was Noelle, Tessa's best friend and the girl who had been kidnapped. I don't think her fear after the incident was captured as well as Tessa's. I know she was trying to be portrayed as tough, strong, and guarded but some of her actions threw me off. Like after she escaped and returned to her family, she would sneak out in the middle of the night. By herself. Her explanation for this was because everyone in her house was suffocating her, which was true, but I can't see her having the bravery to sneak out after all she went through for two years. That really was my only problem with this book. The rest was beautifully written, and for the most part, the characters were 100% believable. Opposites played an important part in the plot, and Kristina McBride managed to balance the opposites of dark and light. There was enough darkness to make me want to run to bed and have my parents check my closet for monsters, but enough light to give me hope for victims of a traumatizing event.