Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s journal. Tristan chases after it-–is that a doll?-–and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree.
In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American gods John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky.
But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?- Goodreads
I am so happy I got the chance to read this book because once I got into it, I GOT INTO IT.
Let first start off by saying a lot of the mythology mentioned within this book I was only briefly familiar with. For instance, I knew the names and maybe a snippet of the story but I in fact did not know the details. My family did not sit down and pass these stories around, which is unfortunate because there was a lot of history to them.I found out about this by reading :)
So I really loved this book. But I didn’t think I was because I had issues with Tristan’s parents and grandparents. Although they make brief appearances in this novel, I felt the grandfather was toxic, old school but still toxic. And felt that his parents just sent him away without much effort in helping/understanding him. I thought I was going to have to read through a novel of Tristan battling otherworldly things while listening to his Grandfather tell him how weak he is and how he needs to work more. I was so expecting the Grandfather to change his mind once Tristan does something amazing or he finds out the truth of Tristan’s actions and then they would be friends. . . I am so glad the author did not go that route otherwise I would have been disappointed.
Tristan is a joy and I loved the fact that the author allowed Tristan to feel everything and to convey those feelings without himself being toxic. Tristan had a lot of pressure coming at him from all areas and at one point I was just like this child is fighting to save a world he didn’t know existed, give him a break. I was so frustrated for Tristan. I just wanted to give him a hug and then encouragement.
I loved how the author was able to bring new life to these African and African American mythologies. The pace of the novel kept you invested without you feeling the overpowering need to finish the book in one sitting. This read is something you take your time with and its what I did. I completely see not only middle school readers falling in love with this series but adults too.
Side Note: Gum Baby<3