Tighter by Adele Griffin
May 10th, 2011 from Knopf Books for Young Readers
When 17-year-old Jamie arrives on the idyllic New England island of Little Bly to work as a summer au pair, she is stunned to learn of the horror that precedes her. Seeking the truth surrounding a young couple's tragic deaths, Jamie discovers that she herself looks shockingly like the dead girl—and that she has a disturbing ability to sense the two ghosts. Why is Jamie's connection to the couple so intense? What really happened last summer at Little Bly? As the secrets of the house wrap tighter and tighter around her, Jamie must navigate the increasingly blurred divide between the worlds of the living and the dead.
Jamie is a pill-poppin teenager with a bad attitude and blind parents (not literally, but in the I Have No Idea What My Daughter Is Doing blind). When Jamie lands an au pair job for Isa, a 13-year-old girl, on a quaint little island, she thinks it will be a lazy summer and an easy way to earn money. When she learns that the previous au pair and her boyfriend died and she happens to look like her doppleganger, her laid back summer starts to go a little off course....fast. Jamie immediately starts to see shadows in windows and ghosts jumping off cliffs. She is no stranger to ghosts. She sees two all of the time - an uncle and a cousin who both committed suicide several years before. Like the ghosts on the island, she isn't sure why she sees them. They can't hear her when she cries out, and they don't speak to her. Jamie must figure out the connection between the ghosts before the summer, and her life, unravels.
This story had a great beginning and good premise. I love a creepy ghost story and the setting was the perfect place for one. A tiny island full of snooty people all wiling to hide any and every secret is a perfect setting. Little Bly reminded me of Block Island. For me, I was expecting a bigger climax. The lead in was good and there were a few creepy moments, but I was hoping for a little more. I wanted to feel my bones shake and be afraid to turn off the light. Also, I didn't exactly call the ending, but looking back....yes, I see it now.
I was irritated with each and every character at one point or another. Jamie is so hard to like. She is constantly high or spaced out because of the pills she takes every thirty minutes. Her attitude and defiance is hard to watch. Connie, the house manager, has a lisp or speech impediment and the passages where she speaks for an extended period of time, was hard to understand. I literally had to speak her parts aloud so I could understand what she was saying. I wasn't in love with Isa either. She was so hung up on the past - I guess she needed to be - but it was just too much. I honestly don't think I learned very much about her. The brief love interest is probably the most real and down to earth person. Sebastian is patient and understanding and he comes away from the story looking like a prince.
I always write my review before I read others. I was informed that this is a retelling of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. I am not familiar with this work, but some of you may be. Tighter was a good, quick ghost story that will appeal to young readers who like a good mystery. Because of the drug content, I would recommend this for ages 12 and up.