Book Review: Tighter

Published By: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 2011
Page Count: 216 
Buy it at Amazon or IndieBound
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult

As a kid, I remember reading Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw" and being creeped out for days. At an event in Seattle last month, several authors were asked about their favorite recent reads and Tighter was mentioned. I instantly perked up when someone mentioned it was a loose retelling of James' novella. The book instantly shot up my TBR list and I couldn't wait to begin reading it. However, it has been so long since I read the original piece that I wasn't able to see all the references. I think it would be interesting to go back and read "The Turn of the Screw" again and then give Tighter another go.

Jamie, a New Jersey teen with a pill popping addiction, is heading to the posh Little Bly Island in New England to spend her summer as an au pair for a quirky charge who sees things that aren't there and talks to people who don't exist. As Jamie seeks to forget her problems in the summer sun, she soon learns that things may not be exactly as they appear on Bly. The previous summer, a teen couple lost their lives in a tragic plane crash. Jamie looks suspiciously like the girl who died, but is there more to it than just her looks? Could she possibly be channeling the dead boy somehow?

One thing that made this book difficult for me was Jamie. Characters can make or break reads for me. I just couldn't support Jamie or most of the decisions she made in this book. She was not likable and her weakness annoyed me. I honestly couldn't understand why the one character in the book I did like found Jamie attractive.

Tighter, while creepy in its own right, didn't totally live up to its famous source, but nonetheless it was a fun read. I enjoyed that I could never quite pinpoint if Jamie was hallucinating from her pill binges or if she truly was seeing what was in front of her. Griffin has crafted a psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the twist at the very end. This book is also full of questions and ambiguity which may frustrate some readers. Griffin's writing style is solid and I would give her other works a try.

One Last Gripe: Jamie's chaotic mind made the story hard to follow in parts. I was never quite sure what was really happening and what she was imagining.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: The ghosts

Favorite Character: I didn't have one

Least Favorite Character: Milo

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.


  1. I had a hard time liking Jamie, too. I'm too uptight and straight laced for someone like her :P I don't think we were really supposed to like her though. If I remember correctly (and it's been a while!) I don't think the governess in James' original was supposed to be very likable either.

    I liked how much Adele Griffin kept me on my toes though. I saw the first reveal, but the final reveal at the very end really surprised me.


Post a Comment

We love your comments!