Thursday, November 5, 2015

Book Review Discussion: The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond

Book: The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond
Genre: YA Historical
For: Fun and Beehive Award long list
From: the library

Short Synopsis: Dominic and Holly have been best friends forever, living together in post WWII England as the neighborhood tries to get back to normal life. Their fathers work for the nearby shipyard. One summer they see tightrope walkers at the circus and they spend much of their time practicing and trying to be tightrope walkers too. But that's not what this book is about. That's just a metaphor for what it's really about, which is growing up and surviving. Dom's big worry at first is about the bully beating him, and then turning into a strange sort of friend later. He loves Holly, but he shuns her too. Basically, he can't figure anything out. And then something happens that changes their lives forever.

My Response: Ah, this book. I love books like this. Plot people, you will probably hate it.. it's ALL CHARACTER! But such beautiful writing. I enjoyed the writing in Skellig, the only other David Almond book I've read, so I had high expectations with this one. All fulfilled. Simple, beautiful, poetic writing. How does he DO that??? The setting and characters were great and the historical nuggets and British-isms also awesome. I loved it.

But do be warned, this book has many many disturbing things. The bully is really awful and does really awful things. Dominic is mixed up in some of those things for awhile which makes (the reader, his parents, Holly) cringe and wring our hands and hope. As a parent, I can totally relate. But, yes, I would say this book while marketed as YA could be more NA or even adult. Very very disturbing things.

Bottom Line: Loved the writing and the character development, despite the disturbing and deep subject matter. The book makes my heart ache with both beautiful things and hard things.

Let's Talk About: What do you feel about the rough in life paired with the beautiful? Pretty true to real life, wouldn't you say? And still, it's a little jarring in a book such as this. Yet, somehow it works. It works unbelievably well.

Other Reviews:

THE TIGHTROPE WALKERS is both brutal and romantic, realistic and fantastical --- and it offers a coming-of-age story that won't soon be forgotten. From

As I was reading the book with my reviewer's cap on my head, I kept wondering to myself if teens would like the book, if they would recognize the literary merit behind the prose. I don't know the answer. I am quite conflicted. I guess my advice to you is to read the book and decide for yourself. From My Head Is Full of Books

David Almond addresses the dark side of humanity, but like real life, sometimes hope can be found and sometimes the sense of loss can be overwhelming. However, the beautiful writing, metaphors, and lyrical prose make this book very special. From YA Books


  1. I consider myself a plot girl but this one sounds intriguing and I think I'm in the mood for a character driven book.

    1. Jenny: It would be interesting to see what you think of it.

  2. I can go for either a plot or character driven book, but bullying is something I really hate reading about. Cruelty bothers me a lot more than violence, especially when it involves kids.

  3. You've certainly intrigued me! I hadn't even heard of this one until now, but I love character novels. So on my TBR it goes! :)



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