Review Detail

One of the most important books of this decade
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Tristan Strong isn't doing too well. He lost his best friend, Eddie, in a bus accident, lost a boxing match, and lost his main home for the summer to stay in Alabama with his grandparents. His biggest comfort is Eddie's journal, filled with stories he used to tell. When a weird creature sneaks into his room on his grandparents' farm and tries to steal the journal, he runs after it...and ends up in a world he never expected, in the middle of a war he's suddenly at the heart of.

TRISTAN STRONG PUNCHES A HOLE IN THE SKY is one of the most important and needed stories published this decade. Truly, I think all of the Rick Riordan Presents books so far are worthy of that sentiment. Kwame Mbalia shines in a story that balances hope and history, epic figures and human fault, and the weight of a flawed world with the lightness of a perfectly timed joke. This book does not shy away from America's horrific history and presents it in a way that middle grade readers will find accessible.

As is part of the Rick Riordan Presents signature, the humor in TRISTAN STRONG is utter perfection. I personally enjoyed Gum Baby's entire character so much and laughed out loud, nearly to the point of tears, because of her dialogue on multiple occasions. This humor is part of what makes TRISTAN STRONG so great for young readers. Even when the world is on the verge of collapse, TRISTAN STRONG reminds you that humor, friendship, family (biological or found), and courage can go a long way.

With TRISTAN STRONG PUNCHES A HOLE IN THE SKY, Kwame Mbalia has gone straight to my auto-buy authors list. Classrooms, libraries, and homes would be sorely lacking without this epic middle grade fantasy in their collection.
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