TIGHTROPE by Gillian Cross


Age Range: 12 - 14
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A twisty, eccentric novel of Machiavellian intrigue unravels slightly in the resolution, but fans of the author’s previous works (Pictures in the Dark, 1996, etc.) are unlikely to mind. When Ashley begins to get threatening letters and phone calls from a mysterious stalker, she goes to a local fixer for help, only to find that she’s only a pawn in his own machinations. She has always lived a duel life: by day, she’s “every mother’s dream daughter,” faithfully attending school, then rushing home to do a myriad of household chores and care for her ailing mother; by night, she’s a secret graffiti artist, scaling walls and roofs to “tag” surfaces with her spray-painted nom de plume. Her daring midnight adventures eventually catch the attention of Eddie Beale, a legendary tough with a zero tolerance for boredom and a coterie of colorful followers. Eddie “looks after” his friends, but demands slavish obedience in return. Ashley is flattered until she discovers that Eddie is using her in an elaborate scheme to get back at an innocent but uncooperative merchant. The premise is intriguing; Cross, using a variety of narrative voices and circus metaphors, spins the web so tautly that it’s a bit disconcerting when Ashley destroys Eddie’s universe so decisively. The page-turning plot will keep readers involved, though, despite a few undeveloped characters and the weak finish. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1999
ISBN: 0-8234-1512-0
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1999