Summary and book reviews of The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond

The Tightrope Walkers

by David Almond

The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2015, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2016, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

In a raw and beautifully crafted bildungsroman, David Almond reveals the rich inner world of a boy teetering on the edge of manhood.

A gentle visionary coming of age in the shadow of the shipyards of northern England, Dominic Hall is torn between extremes. On the one hand, he craves the freedom he feels when he steals away with the eccentric girl artist next door, Holly Stroud - his first and abiding love - to balance above the earth on a makeshift tightrope. With Holly, Dom dreams of a life different in every way from his shipbuilder dad's, a life fashioned of words and images and story. On the other hand, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to the brutal charms of Vincent McAlinden, a complex bully who awakens something wild and reckless and killing in Dom.

In a raw and beautifully crafted bildungsroman, David Almond reveals the rich inner world of a boy teetering on the edge of manhood, a boy so curious and open to impulse that we fear for him and question his balance - and ultimately exult in his triumphs.

I was born in a hovel on the banks of the Tyne, as so many of us were back then. It was a three-room dilapidated upstairs flat, in the same terraced row where Dad had been born, and just upriver from Simpson's Shipyard. Rats slunk under the floorboards, mice scuttled in the walls. The bath hung on a nail on the wall, the toilet was at the foot of steep steps outside. The river slopped against the banks and stank when the tide was low. There was the groan of engines and cranes from the yard, the din of riveters and caulkers. Sirens blared at the start and end of shifts. Gulls screamed, children laughed, dogs barked, parents yelled.

All hackneyed, all true.

By the time I remember anything clear, the slums were gone and we'd moved uphill into our pebbledashed estate built on a wilderness just above town.

It's said we travelled there like refugees. We came from crum-bling terraces with tiny yards, from riverside shacks, from tumble-down cottages next to long-abandoned mines...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
  • award image

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

I truly loved this book, loved Dom and Holly and even Dom’s dad who is so baffled that a son of his can write with such skill. But better than merely loving it, this is an especially good book; a well-written, great story, with fantastic characterization and important themes. I miss Dom already.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review (804 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Almond's characteristic penetrating writing and finely drawn characters are on full display in a story more fully grounded in a specific and important historical moment than anything he has published heretofore.

Booklist

Starred Review. Wild and reckless, heartbreaking and hopeful - this elegy on life is not to be missed.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. The award-winning Almond poetically plumbs the depths of his 1950s and '60s childhood to explore themes of violence, war, God, creativity, beauty, death, art, the soul, our animal selves, whether we ever grow up or can really know each other…in short, life.

School Library Journal

Starred Review. A tour de force. ... The novel is by turns reminiscent of classic bildungsromans such as the Billy Elliott film, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and Stephen King's IT, yet it retains a distinctive heart and voice of its own. ... An absolute must-have.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

A Funambulist By Any Other Name

Maria SpelteriniIt seems that as long as there have been human beings and rope there has been the urge to string that rope between two posts or trees or buildings or things of any sturdy sort and walk - heel to toe - across the span.

For the ancient Greeks it held the appeal of balance offset by danger and, of course, the physical challenge. Though tightrope walking was not considered a competitive sport (a la Olympics-worthy), it was nonetheless respected as a special skill. According to a website dedicated to tightrope walker Jean François Gravelet, the Greeks were so enamored of tightrope walking that they created a special prize, "The Thaumatron," which could be won by tightrope walkers and "anyone who shows people something amazing, out of ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Tightrope Walkers, try these:

  • Grendel's Guide to Love and War jacket

    Grendel's Guide to Love and War

    by A. E. Kaplan

    Published 2017

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Revenge of the Nerds in this tale of a teen misfit who seeks to take down the bro next door, but ends up falling for his enemy's sister and uncovering difficult truths about his family in the process.

  • Ketchup Clouds jacket

    Ketchup Clouds

    by Annabel Pitcher

    Published 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Zoe has an unconventional pen pal-Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two boys, betrayed one of them, and killed the other.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Rules of Magic
    The Rules of Magic
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's Rules of Magic is the long-awaited prequel to one of her most cherished novels,...
  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...
  • Book Jacket: Five-Carat Soul
    Five-Carat Soul
    by James McBride
    In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

"A powerful, provocative debut ... Intelligent, honest, and unsentimental." - Kirkus, starred review

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee

    A moving exploration of growing up and growing old, and the ties that bind parents and children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.