Since this blog started out as a book blog, I felt it only appropriate to start this new week with some old content—book reviews! Today, I want to talk about a book I’ve been working on for a few months now: TRISTAN STRONG PUNCHES A HOLE IN THE SKY by Kwame Mbalia.
I bought this book back in June, and have been dying to read it since I read the summary. As part of the Rick Riordan Presents line, TSPAHITS explores a mixture of African and African-American mythology and folklore in a fun, beautifully written adventure. We follow our hero, Tristan Strong, as he finds himself trapped in the magical world of Alke after punching a hole in the sky and unleashing a powerful spirit, bent on tearing Alke apart and stealing its stories. In order to complete his heroic quest, Tristan must use the power of storytelling to battle the iron monsters plaguing the people of Alke, Midpass, and the Ridge, unite the three regions, and find the elusive Anansi—the Weaver, the only person who can stitch together the hole in the sky—all while grieving the death of his best friend.
I was sucked into this book by the second sentence. Seriously, Mbalia has a real gift. This is the kind of book I want to write someday—the voice was so powerful, the story was so well put together, the symbolism was so expertly placed… this was one of my favorite reads of 2020, without a doubt.
I think my favorite part of this book, though, is that it’s for kids. Just like Rick Riordan’s PERCY JACKSON series, this book was written for Middle Grade readers, and I seriously love that. (Although, I should note that never once did I get bored or feel that my reading level was too high for this book—this is really a book for everyone). The message in this book—that storytelling is a powerful thing—is so important, and it’s presented in a way that kids of all ages will understand. I can’t even express with words how much I love that.
Also, I would 100% lay down my life for Gum Baby, no questions asked.
I rated this book a solid 5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads and I wholeheartedly stand by that rating. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel, and I fully recommend this book to everyone—kids and adults alike!
Also, Kwame Mbalia’s Twitter feed is so much fun to follow—I highly recommend following him if you don’t already!