Monday, August 01, 2011


Give me a ghost story and I’m a happy reader. Adele Griffin’s new book, Tighter, is a ghost story and more—a problem novel, a drug addiction novel, and a bit of a romance novel too. (It's also the modernized re-telling of a famous ghost story. A famous ghost story I have never rea, actually.) Our main character, seventeen-year-old Jamie, has many a trouble. She’s haunted by the ghosts of her suicidal family members, and if that isn’t bad enough, she’s become addicted to perscription drugs. Any pill will do. Often, Jamie takes pills without even knowing for sure what they are. In short, she’s a mess. So, obviously the best job for Jamie is—babysitter! Her mother, in an attempt to get Jamie out of her "mope," arranges for Jamie to become the au pair to an eleven-year-old girl on secluded Bly Island. As soon as she gets to Bly, the ghosts Jamie encounters increase by two—the ghost of last summer’s au pair and her angry boyfriend. A very Romeo and Juliet story there. Or was it? They both died together, no doubt about that, but what exactly were the circumstances? Throw into the mix the fact that the dead au pair (Jessie) looked an awful lot like the current au pair (Jamie), plus a reticent, lisping housekeeper, a disturbed little girl, and a whole family who doesn't want to talk about what's really going on, and the story gets even creepier. Just what has Jamie gotten herself into?

There's a lot going on in this book, and every now and then it feels like a little too much going on. However, it all comes together in the end when all of the meandering threads of the tale get sewn up. The big reveal scene might confuse some readers, but if the reader is paying proper attention, the ending will make sense. I enjoyed the plot line of the Romeo and Juliet-like couple and the way the author revealed the truth of their deaths. Of course, Jamie gets her own love interest, but in the way of many a teen novel, he's a bit too good to be true. People this cool and understanding simply don't exist in real life. If they do, I want to meet them.

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