Cover image for Tight
Title:
Tight
ISBN:
9781524740559
Physical Description:
180 pages ; 22 cm.
Summary:
After his quick-tempered father gets in a fight and is sent back to jail, sixth-grader Bryan, known for being quiet and thoughtful, snaps and follows new friend Mike into trouble.

Bryan knows what's tight for him--reading comics, drawing superheroes, and hanging out with no drama. But drama is every day where he's from, and that gets him tight, wound up. And now Bryan's friend Mike pressures him with ideas of fun that are crazy risky. At first, it's a rush following Mike, hopping turnstiles, subway surfing, and getting into all kinds of trouble. But Bryan never really feels right acting so wrong, and drama really isn't him. So which way will he go, especially when his dad tells him it's better to be hard and feared than liked? But if there's one thing Bryan's gotten from his comic heroes, it's that he has power--to stand up for what he feels.
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Summary

Summary

Tight: Lately, Bryan's been feeling it in all kinds of ways . . .

Bryan knows what's tight for him--reading comics, drawing superheroes, and hanging out with no drama. But drama is every day where he's from, and that gets him tight, wound up.

And now Bryan's friend Mike pressures him with ideas of fun that are crazy risky. At first, it's a rush following Mike, hopping turnstiles, subway surfing, and getting into all kinds of trouble. But Bryan never really feels right acting so wrong, and drama really isn't him. So which way will he go, especially when his dad tells him it's better to be hard and feared than liked?

But if there's one thing Bryan's gotten from his comic heroes, it's that he has power--to stand up for what he feels . . .

Torrey Maldonado delivers a fast-paced, insightful, dynamic story capturing urban community life. Readers will connect with Bryan's journey as he navigates a tough world with a heartfelt desire for a different life.


Author Notes

Torrey Maldonado, the author of the critically acclaimed Secret Saturdays , is a teacher in Brooklyn, New York, where he was born, raised, and lives. His books reflect his students' and his experiences.


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in Brooklyn public housing, this novel by Maldonado (Secret Saturdays) centers on Bryan, a Puerto Rican sixth grader grappling with a volatile home life, a friend he can't trust, his conscience, and his identity. Since leaving jail, Pa hasn't done much except "hanging in the streets with his homeboys," but he "still spends zero time" with Bryan and his sister. His level-headed, loving mother has always counseled her son to focus on school rather than friends, since the "wrong friends bring drama," which proves true when Bryan meets Mike, an edgy, older schoolmate who shares Bryan's love of reading superhero comics and drawing. Wary of Mike's mood swings and manipulative behavior yet fearful of being labeled "soft," Bryan follows Mike's lead-skipping school and riding the subway by hanging out the back car-while feeling "far away from who I am." The author shrewdly builds suspense, fueling readers' dread that Bryan's poor choices will have dire consequences, but lands Bryan in a satisfying place. This is a psychologically intricate story of the challenges and rewards of family, friendship, and discerning one's true self. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

In black Puerto Rican Bryan's Brooklyn world, tight can mean either "cool" or "angry." The sixth grader experiences both meanings when he becomes friends with Mike, who's cool at first but begins to show a dark peer-pressuring side. When he begins following Mike's risky lead, Bryan learns valuable lessons about character, friendship, family, and--like the superheroes in his favorite comic books--the power of choice. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist Review

Bryan dislikes drama, but it's hard to avoid when his dad is in and out of prison and his mom is trying to make ends meet. He knows keeping his head down and working hard in school is his ticket to success, so he's surprised when his mom encourages a friendship with Mike, a classmate he barely knows. Soon the two are bonding over video games, superheroes, and comics. However, Mike starts pressuring Bryan to participate in riskier activities, such as cutting school and subway-train surfing. At first, Bryan goes along because his dad warns him not to be soft, but when he gets busted and prohibited from seeing Mike for a while, Bryan realizes maybe he doesn't need the stress of trying to be cool and accepted by Mike. Maldonado's novel quietly interrogates toxic masculinity in a story that will resonate with middle-grade readers who, just like Bryan, are questioning who they are, who they want to be friends with, and how those choices will impact their lives.--Lindsey Tomsu Copyright 2018 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-The complex emotional lives of young boys of color are portrayed through a nascent friendship. Bryan is constantly teased for being "soft," thanks to his preference for comics, drawing, and spending quiet moments with his mom. Through his mother's work at a Brooklyn community center, he meets Mike, an older, "harder" schoolmate whom he's never socialized with before and is apprehensive about befriending. Slowly, Bryan finds they have much in common and begins spending more time with Mike. When Bryan's recently paroled father is re-incarcerated, Mike offers him an emotional outlet in the form of ditching school, the first of several exploits the pair undertake. Pushing of boundaries as an emotional response to trauma, vulnerability, and societal pressures is an overarching theme of the novel, pressing readers to consider the impetus of what is deemed "bad behavior." Regrettably, Mike, who faces many of the same emotional struggles and home life difficulties as Bryan, is not allotted the same degree of sympathy. Maldonado, however, excels at depicting realistic and authentic interactions between middle school boys. VERDICT An excellent addition to libraries with fans of David Barclay Moore's The Stars Beneath Our Feet, Jason Reynolds's Ghost, and character-driven realistic fiction.-Jessica Agudelo, New York Public Library © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Kirkus Review

A loner navigates a dangerous relationship.Bryan is a quiet, Afro-Puerto Rican sixth-grader living in Brooklyn. He enjoys comic books, video games, and keeping to himself. Pa, recently released from prison, and Bryan's sister, Ava, encourage him to be tough. Ava mocks him for being a "momma's boy," and Pa tells him it's better to be feared than liked. Ma, however, encourages Bryan to use his brains instead of his fists. Ma introduces Bryan to Mike, a slightly older black boy who uses the services at the community center where Ma works; she says he "seems nice" and "gets good grades," and Bryan needs a friend. Soon Mike and Bryan become so close that they say they're brothersbut Mike isn't as good as Ma and others think. Bryan gets swept up in Mike's influence and begins to behave badly in small ways, throwing rocks at cars from rooftops and practicing his mother's handwriting so he can forge excuses from school. After Pa violates his parole and is arrested again, Bryan's behavior escalates, including cutting class and hopping onto moving trains. Through Bryan's believable, emotionally honest first-person narration, Maldonado skillfully shows a boy trying to navigate parental desires and the societal expectations of his Brooklyn neighborhood while trying to figure himself out. Readers will be rooting for Bryan to make the right choices even as they understand the wrong ones. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter 1 I'm chilling at the community center where Ma works. She's cool with her boss and coworkers, so they're cool with me and my sister, Ava, being at Ma's job after school.       Usually, Ava chills for minutes. Me? Hours. I don't know why Ava doesn't hang longer. Maybe she's too busy with her ninth-grade life. But me? I like doing office things, like Ma: reading, being quiet, and chilling for forever. For example, about a month back, I found this empty spot at Ma's job and asked her if I could use it as my pretend-office. She asked her boss and she told Ma, "Sure. We also have a spare desk-chair and some other supplies Bryan can use."      So, right now, I'm doing homework in my office, but this kid named Mike is at Ma's desk and I'm distracted spying on him.      He's a year older than me and about two inches taller. He rocks a sweater like mine, but his kicks are newer and more popular. He has hair like me, Afro-type if we grew it out. Mine's grown out a little since I need a cut. He just got one.      Now he's alone, but I've seen him with his mom here, two or three times.      I didn't think twice about Mike at first because a lot of kids and their parents come through here. Then I saw him at my school, hanging with seventh graders. He didn't do his sixth grade in my school. So, why'd he transfer for his seventh grade? I asked Ma, and she said his family was in the Bronx and she helped them get an apartment here in Brooklyn in our projects.      In school, me and Mike nod what's up but don't hang. I see him around the neighborhood too and at the handball courts near us. Then the other day I saw him talking to my pops. I didn't get why Pa was so friendly to him. And I don't get why Mike is here now, talking to Ma.      I squint at them.      "Did Mike just call Ma 'Ma'?" I ask Ava, who is in my office looking at my homework on my clipboard.      Ava stares from the clipboard at him and shrugs. "Who cares? Almost anyone younger than her calls her Ma."      That's true. Ma helps lots of people and they love her. But I don't like this kid Mike calling her Ma right now.      I ask Ava, "Why's he playing her so close?"      Ava goes back to reading the clipboard, but I can't look away.      Mike stares at Ma like she's his mom for real and gives her a hug.      Yo! He better let go of my moms.      Ava interrupts me and points at different spots on my clipboard. "You spelled some stuff wrong."      "What? Where?" Nothing should be wrong because I checked it twice like Ma says to do. I look where she points.      Ugh! She's right. I hate when she's right.      I grab a pencil, take the clipboard, and fix my mistakes.      By the time I look up again, Mike's about to leave. He yells, "Bye, Ma!"      I turn to Ava. "He just called her Ma again!"      She rolls her eyes. "Because he's probably her real son. Unlike you."      Here she goes again, cracking that stupid joke she's been cracking since I was in day care, telling me Ma and Pa found me in a trash can.      Back then, I believed her since me and Ava have different complexions. Hers is chocolate brown. I'm a lighter caramel.      The first time she said it, I ran to Ma and she showed me our birth certificates. Ava got punished but she never stopped joking I wasn't her brother--like right now--and for some reason it still bothers me.      "Well, I wish Mike was my real brother," she continues. "He's no momma's boy like you."      My whole head burns like I have a fever. I want to cut on her so hard. But only weak disses come to mind. I finally growl, "Big Head."      "Oooh, Big Head. Ouch. I can't wait until Mike comes to eat."      "Eat?"      "What you think? He calls Ma Ma and he won't come eat soon? You know anyone who calls Ma Ma ends up eating with us. You saw how she hugged him."      Ma sneaks up on us. "What is going on with you two?"      We shut up.      "You both were going at it. Now you're quiet?"      "Bryan's mad because you hugged Mike."      Ma makes a face like I'm her baby and I have nothing to worry about. "Come here."      I go over and she hugs me.      "You don't have to worry about Mike. You'll see tomorrow night. He's coming for dinner."   Chapter 2 When I get back from school the next day, Ma tries handing me what looks like a grocery list. I U-turn to bounce.      "Bryan," she calls me back. "Here. I need you to go to Hector's."      I sigh, turn around, and take her grocery list as thoughts fly through my head.      I hope there's no note for the bodega's owner.      I hope there's no note for the bodega's owner.      Ugh! There's a note for him.      Why do I have to get groceries with a note and not real money? I wish I had brothers to get groceries.      Actually, I do have brothers. Before Ma, Pa had three sons from another woman. But I don't even know what they look like. I used to imagine them. I pictured them stopping bullies from bullying me. I pictured them giving me money when I wanted candy. I pictured them teaching me boy stuff Pa didn't.      Now, I've stopped imagining them. They're not coming to Brooklyn for me, and they probably don't even know about me. Supposedly, they're grown and live in Philly or somewhere.      Pa probably doesn't even know what his sons look like either. Ma says Pa left them when they were like nine or ten and he hasn't seen them since. Whatevs.      So, I have to go get groceries. Not Ava. Not imaginary brothers. Me. And I hate it. *** I look at Ma's shopping list. "Can I add chocolate powder?"      She sighs. "Bryan, we're just getting what we need."      "I need chocolate milk," I say. I look at the list again. "Okay, how about grapes? We need them."      "We have."      "They so shriveled," I joke, "they raisins now."      But Ma's in a serious mood. "Money is tight."      I want to say, If money is tight and we have to buy food on credit, why you inviting Mike to dinner?      But I just take the list and head for the elevator. When it shows up, there's a puddle of piss in it. Instead of someone cleaning it up, it looks like heads did what they usually do--keep trashing it. Junk-food wrappers and cigarette butts float on the puddle that stinks ammonia-strong.      I take the stairs. *** Pa's friends hang out on the corner near the bodega.      His friend Pito lowers his sunglasses and waves when he sees me. Pito could pass for that basketball player Stephen Curry and always rocks skintight T-shirts that show off his abs, no matter how cold it gets outside.      A bunch of other familiar faces spot me and their faces flip from hard to hi, but not much else flips. Loud Spanish music thumps. Teens who rock the most dip gear sit on milk crates. Some of Pa's real old--viejo--friends sit at a table and play dominoes and beef about the last move made.      This is Pa and his homeboys' spot. I only come by when I'm on my way to the bodega or the arcade next door.      Ava says I don't like to hang here because I'm soft. That's why she calls me a momma's boy. I'm not a momma's boy, but I am like Ma since she got me used to being by myself, the way she keeps to herself.      "Focus on school," Ma always tells me. "There will be friends later. The wrong friends bring drama, and I don't want them rubbing off on you." Anyway, with all that advice, I wonder why she's letting Mike come over.      Nicholas, this black older man with dark skin and all-white hair like Magneto from the X-Men, puts his hand on my shoulder and nods at a crate. "Sit! Sit!"      "No thanks," I tell Nicholas real kind. "Ma and Pa want me back with the food."      Nicholas and Pa's friends circle me, smiling. Some are a bit bent with that same smell Pa has when he drinks. But the look in their eyes is the same: love. I know they have my back.      When me and Pa are here, he tells them, "Look out for my son," and they swear they'd body anyone who messes with me. Once, when Pa told Pito to look out for me, Pito lifted his fist, showed Pa his knuckles, and told him, "Joe, you kidding me? Someone messes with him and they get this." Pa lifted his fist too, and they winked, pumping fists like boxers before a boxing match.      I believe Pito and Nicholas and all of Pa's friends when they say they'll do whatevs for me. Out here, you need heads who got your back and it feels good that they got mine.      I go in the store. *** "Bryan!" Hector smiles at me while humming along to a Marc Anthony song playing loud from behind the counter.      I hand him Ma's shopping list. He stops humming, reads it, and bites his lip. "Your father hasn't paid his last bill."      I look away, wishing I wasn't here.      Hector sighs and slides Ma's list on the counter back to me. "Go ahead. Tell him I'll add this to his old bill."      I grab it, then a handbasket, and walk in the Goya aisle.      I start getting stuff from shelves, and when I get to the bread, Hector's tiger-striped cat chills on top of a loaf.      I want to tell Hector, "Mercedes is smushing the bread."      I can't though. Hector might flip and say, "My cat can do what she wants. You don't even have money. Be happy I let you get food."      I walk up to Mercedes and the bread.      She hisses.      Ugh!      I try to grab a not-smushed bread, and Mercedes swats me mad fast!      Yo! Her eyes look like she says, Get out my store with your broke butt.      When I finally have everything, I go to the counter. Hector checks if the list matches what I got. I can't have nothing extra.      I stare back at the chocolate powder we can't afford to buy. Chocolate milk tastes so good.      Right then, this girl Melanie from my school comes in and watches as Hector bags my stuff and hands me a Post-it. "This is how much your father owes."      Dang! Why'd he have to mention us owing money? I nervous-smile at Melanie, and just like I thought, she eyes me all in my sauce and trying to know the flavor.      What's for her to figure out? I'm a broke joke.      Yo! I wish I could explode magician smoke in front of me and--poof--I'd be gone and not here, all embarrassed.      I nod at Hector. "Okay."      "Tell Joe I say hi."      Outside his store, I look above everyone's head--above all the laughs, the arguing, and the music.      I look toward Manhattan, and I wish things could be different.      I wish my family had more money.      I wish that girl didn't have to see me be broke.      I wish I had a brother for real.      I wish I wasn't in my feelings.      I wish I didn't care so much. Excerpted from Tight by Torrey Maldonado All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.