Sunday, September 7, 2008

Julie's Review: Hold Tight

Photobucket Summary: Parents will find this compulsive page-turner from Edgar-winner Coben (The Woods) particularly unnerving. A sadistic killer is at play in suburban Glen Rock, N.J., outside New York City, but somehow he's less frightening than the more mundane problems that send ordinary lives into chaos. How do you weigh a child's privacy against a parent's right to know? How do you differentiate normal teenage rebelliousness from out-of-control behavior? When and how do you intervene if suicidal signs appear? Other issues include single parenting; career versus family; marital honesty; and how much information you should share with a child at what age. Coben plucks each of these strings like a virtuoso as Mike and Tia Baye try to deal with the increasing withdrawal of their 16-year-old son, Adam, after a friend's suicide. A pair of brutal, seemingly senseless killings, punctuate the unfolding domestic troubles that ratchet up the tension and engulf the Baye family, their friends and neighbors in a web of increasing tragedy. The this could be me factor lends poignancy to the thrills and chills.

Review: Hold Tight is the third novel by Harlan Coben that I've read and it's the best of the three. This definitely got me thinking. Granted I don't have a teenager but I do have kids and often wonder what they'll be like during their teen years, I know what I was like and sure I had my moments but compared to some other teenagers my stuff was pretty tame. Mr. Coben deals with teen angst and parental governance of their computers, cell phones and pretty much trying to get their thoughts. Tia and Mike Baye's son Adam has been distant and withdrawing from the family ever since his friend Spencer committed suicide. In order to try to figure out what's going on they "bug" his computer; and here in lies the moral dilemma of the book. As parents should we 1) know our children's every thought and 2) should we take it into our own hands to "spy" on them to know what they are up to? Are kids not allowed to have their own thoughts and privacy?

There are a lot of characters in this books and at times I did sit back and wonder how he was going to tie them all in but did he ever. The book is a roller coaster up and down of not only action but emotion too. As a parent I could definitely identify with the situation that the Baye's found themselves in. I just don't know if I would have gone down that route of spying on my kid. Then again, if it's your last resort, it's your last resort. Mr. Coben truly does not give an opinion on the subject but instead writes the novel so that you think about the morality of it. There are a few good twists and turns that come towards the end of the book and right at the end of the book which make the book that much better. There is violence and some of it pretty gross and yet not completely needless as much as I hate to say that.

I highly recommend Hold Tight if this is your first Harlan Coben book. If it's not and you haven't read it yet, pick it up because it definitely won't disappoint.
My only complaint is that I wish some of the characters had been flushed out a little more but I understand the book was more on plot than on rich character development.

Final Take: 4.25/5


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