STARRED REVIEW
April 2015

Finding balance

By David Almond
Review by
In this sprawling, emotionally enrapturing and mostly autobiographical tale, a talented lad comes of age in the harsh shadows of Northern England’s shipyards.
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In this sprawling, emotionally enrapturing and mostly autobiographical tale, a talented lad comes of age in the harsh shadows of Northern England’s shipyards.

Dominic Hall was born in a hovel along the River Tyne in the 1960s. His severe father is still embittered from fighting in World War II, and his kind mother always wanted more for her sweet boy. Readers get key glimpses of Dominic’s growth and maturation over more than a decade as he befriends the two most disparate people his age in town—the artistic, free-spirited Holly Stroud and the tormented, reckless Vincent McAlinden. Dominic, a weaver of words, can’t help but be drawn to Holly’s self-expression and caring—but he can’t seem to suppress the darkness that attracts him to the wildness of Vincent’s uninhibited and dangerous life. When these two worlds inevitably collide, he is faced with making choices no one would ever want to make.

British author David Almond is an immensely gifted storyteller and a receiver of a Hans Christian Andersen Award, a Carnegie Medal and a host of other honors. The Tightrope Walkers is perhaps his most personal work, with so many similarities between the author and Dominic that fiction and reality become indistinguishable from one another. Almond’s phenomenal, philosophical writing balances well with his incisive clarity and arresting narration, making it immensely relatable.

 

Justin Barisich is a freelancer, satirist, poet and performer living in Atlanta. More of his writing can be found at littlewritingman.com.

This article was originally published in the April 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Tightrope Walkers

The Tightrope Walkers

By David Almond
Candlewick
ISBN 9780763673109

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