Tighter

Tighter

4.3 12
by Adele Griffin
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Griffin (The Julian Game) offers a modernized version of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw that stars Jamie, a young au pair who is fast becoming a prescription drug addict. Shortly after arriving at Little Bly Island to care for 11-year-old Isa (who is still deeply disturbed by the death of her former au pair, Jessie), Jamie is surprised by the return of Isa's older brother, Milo, who "got tossed" from summer camp. Living in a household ruled by a cantankerous housekeeper and frequently disrupted by Milo's antics, Jamie turns to stolen pills. She becomes less and less sure of what is real, coming to believe that the ghosts of Jessie and the au pair's boyfriend are haunting her ("The unrest of their death was defiant, it beckoned from the corners"). Sure to please fans of gothic romance, Griffin's tale adds new psychological dimensions to James's classic novella as it delves into Jamie's pill-popping, her family's history of mental illness, and her unrequited love for a teacher who brushed her off. Eerily intriguing from first page to last. Ages 12–up. (May)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2011:
"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."

Children's Literature - Denise Daley
Jamie's dead uncles silently appear before her. They seem to be pulling her in tighter to them. Additionally, Jamie is trying to mend her heart that was broken when her young high-school teacher rejected her. Jamie tries to block the visions and fix her broken heart by self-medicating. In addition to popping the pills prescribed for her back injury, Jamie will swallow just about any pill that she can find. Maybe the summer job as a caretaker to young Isa on the tiny, upscale island of Little Bly will provide the escape that Jamie needs. Upon arriving in Little Bly, however, Jamie learns that the tiny island has ghosts of its own. Two teenaged lovers tragically died there just the summer before, and they begin appearing to Jamie. Jamie becomes determined to uncover the circumstances surrounding their death but the annoying housekeeper and Isa's antagonistic older brother make the task increasingly difficult. Soon Jamie herself is pulled to near death in her efforts to discover the truth. Are the ghosts' real and trying to communicate a message to Jamie? Or could something even more unthinkable be going on? This compelling and well-written novel will keep readers as anxious to uncover the truth as Jamie herself is. Reviewer: Denise Daley
Children's Literature - Ellen Welty
Seventeen-year-old Jamie is spending the summer in the island community of Little Bly in New England following a harrowing year in high school. At the suggestion of her mother to get over her emotional crisis following the end of a complicated relationship with a teacher, she has been hired by an old friend of her mother's to be a companion to his eleven-year-old daughter. After her arrival, Jamie discovers that she bears a striking resemblance to the child's nanny from the previous summer, a girl who died along with her boyfriend in a plane wreck. Even more unnerving, she begins seeing the dead couple at times when no one else sees them. Jamie had begun taking prescription drugs in order to help her sleep before she left for Little Bly. She has a stash of the pills with her that she took from her parent's medicine cabinet and her dependence on them starts to increase as her perceptions of reality become more and more distorted. Readers are unsure what is actually real and what is imaginary since the narrative is in Jamie's voice and from her unreliable point-of-view. When the book is finished readers will want to re-read it immediately to see the clues that they missed the first time. Griffin is a master at the game of misdirecting her readers' attention while she casually slips in important information. Loosely based on Henry James' novel The Turn of the Screw, this will have young adult fans of psychological thrillers looking for more like it. Reviewer: Ellen Welty
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Following the heartbreaking revelation that her secret relationship with a teacher is over, Jamie allows her mother to convince her to become an au pair for the summer as an emotional distraction. Unable to cope normally, the teen pops prescription pills pilfered from her family members indiscriminately throughout her time on Little Bly. Already haunted by the spirits of two relatives who took their own lives, Jamie falls prey to the restless spirits of her charge's previous au pair and her boyfriend who died the previous summer. As the teen becomes more and more disoriented, unsure of what's real and what's in her head, her new friends become concerned for her mental health. Full of mystery, spectral encounters, and disorienting lapses in time, this is a ghost story that melds seamlessly with one of a mental breakdown. A stunning and unexpected revelation brings Jamie's story to a startling conclusion. An engaging thriller with wide appeal.—Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews

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 More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375859335
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
06/12/2012
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
882,508
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile:
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

ONE

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 painkillers—we were an athletic family, prone to sports-related injury—and 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 knew—not 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 searching—what more had I forgotten? Surely there was something else, something better—before 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 motive—her trial kick out of the nest for her youngest, her hang-around-the-house kid—wasn'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, too—they'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 mother—especially 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.
 

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >