Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s journal. Tristan chases after it — is that a doll? — and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American gods John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is presented by Rick Riordan. Now, I’ve read the Percy Jackson books, and I enjoyed them, but they came out after I graduated high school, so they don’t have the nostalgia attached to them that Harry Potter does. They’re good books, but honestly, I forget about them.
Anyway, Tristan Strong has a lot of the stuff I remember from the Percy Jackson books. You’ve got an everyday kid thrust into an impossible situation rising to the occasion. Honestly, I loved Tristan more than Percy. He was going through a lot and struggling, and several times I cried for him. Reading as Tristan became surer of himself was beautiful. He read like a seventh-grader, and I thought Mbalia did a great job writing him.
The non-god characters in this book weren’t as fleshed out, but that was really only two characters, so I didn’t have a problem with it. I loved the mythology in this story. I’ve heard a couple of these stories before, but there were so many I hadn’t. It made me want to research them. It was awesome.
I’ve got a stack of library books I need to read, of course, but as soon as I finished Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, I went to the library and picked up the sequel. I’m hoping that one day my kids will actually enjoy me reading books like this to them, and I can do that too.