Tighterby Adele Griffin
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.… See more details below
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.
"Griffin interweaves subtle commentary about social class, drug abuse and mental illness into this marvelous homage while winding the suspense knob all the way to 11...A contemporary reboot that does the original proud."
Publishers Weekly, March 21, 2011:
"Sure to please fans of gothic romance, Griffin's tale adds new psychological dimensions to James's classic novella [The Turn of the Screw]...Eerily intriguing from first page to last."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May 2011:
"[Will] gratify those seeking a full-on contemporary gothic (or a dynamite curricular pairing with The Turn of the Screw, to which the title may possibly be a reference), and the rest will simply enjoy a summer of adventure, gentle romance, and near-lethal disturbance."
School Library Journal, June 2011:
"Full of mystery, spectral encounters, and disorienting lapses in time, this is a ghost story that melds seamlessly with one of a mental breakdown...An engaging thriller with wide appeal."
A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy (SLJ.com blog), June 21, 2011:
"Because Tighter spooked me. Because the twists and turns kept me guessing — and surprised me even when I guessed them. Because the ending made me see the book in an entirely different light, making me reread it immediately. This is one of my Favorite Books Read in 2011."
Small Review, January 28, 2011:
"Adele is a National Book Award finalist and it is easy to see why. Tightly plotted, well paced, and beautifully written, Tighter pulled me in from the very beginning and, days after having finished, it still hasn’t let me go...I highly recommend it to readers looking for a good ghost story, a contemporary read, a classic retelling, or a creepy Gothic tale. This is the first book I have read by Adele Griffin, but it won’t be the last."
Drug addiction and tainted love mess with the mind of a befuddled au pair in this creepy update of Henry James' The Turn of the Screw.
Seventeen-year-old Jamie is secretly treating a broken heart with her parents' prescriptions when she leaves for a dream babysitting job in a swanky summer community off of Providence, R.I. After a teacher spurns her schoolgirl crush, Jamie sinks into a funk that she hopes will be lifted by focusing on sweet 11-year-old Isa. But once in place, Jamie is tormented by gossip of last summer's nanny, a reckless girl named Jessie, and her boyfriend, Peter, who died in a plane crash. Through her pill-induced haze, Jamie begins seeing the pair everywhere and hears Peter's vengeful voice coming out of Isa's brother Milo's mouth. Then a confrontation with some of the local rich kids sends Jamie spinning off to the same cliff where she first saw the dead lovers take flight. Who or what is driving her to follow their fatal path? Griffin interweaves subtle commentary about social class, drug abuse and mental illness into this marvelous homage while winding the suspense knob all the way to 11. Whether or not the ghosts are real, Jamie's alienation and addiction are, and readers will feel her growing claustrophobia at each turn of the page.
A contemporary reboot that does the original proud. (Fiction. 12 & up)
Read an Excerpt
The last thing I did before I left home was steal pills.
"Wait!" I raised my finger and did the oops smile, then sprinted back inside while Mom stayed in the car to take me to the train station. First to Teddy's bathroom to swipe painkillerswe were an athletic family, prone to sports-related injuryand then to my parents' stash. Mom's allergies, Dad's insomnia.
Maybe fifty, all in. A good haul, but would it be enough?
Pills were new for me. I'd been sucked in innocently enough, after a track hurdle that ripped some tissue. A major lower-lumbar strain, the doctor had diagnosed. When the pain persisted, I'd started therapy at the Y, which just became another thing to skip. And pill filching was easier.
Now here it was late June and I wasn't an addict, not at all, but the heat packs and aspirin hadn't been getting it done for weeks.
The pills also helped me not think too hard about Mr. Ryan. Sean. I'd called him Sean, a couple of times, in the end. And I was so tired of thinking about him. I gripped a small fantasy that the moment I set foot on Little Bly, he'd evaporate from my memory.
Mom honked. I wavered in the doorway of my bedroom, so safe and familiar. I shouldn't be leaving home. I was worse than anyone knewnot my parents, not my best friend, Maggie. Maybe I needed more than pills, but I'd already swiped such a haul.
I stepped inside, gravitating toward my bookshelf. What to take? What would help? The book of poems Tess gave me last birthday that I'd skimmed and liked. My old Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes, which I'd read so many times in childhood that the cover was unhinging from its spine.
On impulse, I popped them both into my satchel. Not much, but comforting, a double shield to protect me from homesickness. Then I stood, helplessly searchingwhat more had I forgotten? Surely there was something else, something betterbefore the horn jounced me from my trance.
"Everyone falls in love with Little Bly. The beaches, the houses." Mom had been nervous-chatting the whole ride. Now we stood by the tracks, waiting for the train to pull in. "This'll be so relaxing! I wish I could come along. At the very least, Jamie, I bet it will be therapeutic for you."
I nodded and yawned. These past weeks, Mom had been big into telling me what Little Bly would be "at the very least." I'm not sure either of us had a clue what it might be at the very most. But a yawn or a "you said it" were my best conversation stoppers in this summer of limited energy. Not that anything was stopping Mom.
All I really knew, at the very least, was that I'd be farther from Maplewood than I'd ever been, outside a chorus trip to Vienna three years ago, in eighth grade.
"A nice change for you, Jamie."
I nodded again and flattened my hand against my satchel, where my Ziploc bag was stashed. Nice change or not, it was happening. Mom had moved pretty quickly, too, rearranging my life one night while she and Dad were out at a dinner party. She'd made it seem like luck, but her secret motiveher trial kick out of the nest for her youngest, her hang-around-the-house kidwasn't lost on me.
And I couldn't discount that this was my dullest summer on record. Maggie was off with her family touring a handful of national parks, all of them gone cold turkey off wireless networks as they hopscotched from Appalachia to Yosemite in their TrailManor RV. The twins were gone, toothey'd left right after graduation. Teddy, for college football training in Orlando, while Tess was in Croatia teaching English in a one-room schoolhouse. She sent postcards that told us the weather (broiling hot, every day) and what she was eating (beef on a stick, every day). We stuck the cards on the fridge next to printouts Teddy emailed of himself as a dot in a helmet.
So maybe it was my turn to be a body in motion. Specifically, a blur on the Jersey Transit to Penn Station, then all aboard Amtrak's Northeast Corridor bound for Providence, Rhode Island, where I'd catch another local train and then a ferry to the island of Little Bly. My last major trip this week had been my hour at the Y, and then into town to drop off some movie rentals. I felt unsteady and out of shape, and maybe not totally prepared for the direct thrust of a voyage out.
As the train approached, I could feel myself collapsing. No, no, this was a bad idea. I was scared to be jerked out of my orbit like this, I wasn't steady in my head. But I couldn't find the right words to explain any of it to my motherespecially since she was so hopeful that Little Bly was my cure.
A cheery smile, a confident bound up the train steps. I went for the window seat so I could wave as I watched Mom turn miniature. And then with sweating fingers, I sank back and took a pill from the baggie, swallowing it dry and tasting its bitter silt in the back of my throat. Okay, okay. One step at a time, and I'd be okay.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >