Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review: Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride


When Tessa's best friend Noelle disappears right before the start of eighth grade, Tessa's life changes completely--she shies away from her other friends and stops eating in the cafeteria. Now, two years later, Noelle has escaped her captivity and is coming home, in one piece but not exactly intact, and definitely different. Tessa's life is about to change again as she tries to revive the best-friendship the two girls had shared before Noelle--now Elle--was kidnapped; puts up a futile resistance to the charming new guy at school; pursues her passion for photography while trying to build the bravado to show her photos to the public; and tries to balance her desire to protect and shelter Elle with the necessity to live her own life and put herself first.


Gripping, painful and emotional sum this book up at its core. A situation no parent or teen ever wants to find themselves in forms the basis of this book, playing out in a very raw way. For two years, Noelle has been held captive by a predator, doing unthinkable things to and with her- many of which the reader never finds out but learns enough to know Noelle never stood a chance of coming away unchanged. Calloused and numb, the reader gets only glimpses of the girl who was taken through her best friend’s memories, instead meeting a brash, bold and unflinching girl named Elle.

Elle is the most defining part of this book for me as the reader learns about her struggles through the eyes of Tessa, giving the outsider’s perspective that drives things. The reader will feel the same frustrations and confusion as Tessa, torn between a grotesque desire to learn the details of her captivity and wanting only to shelter and protect her. An urge to push things back to normalcy will connect the reader with Tessa, forging a strong bond that tugs from the start.

Tessa is written in an almost painful manner, having given up much of her own life after Noelle’s disappearance. Wracked with guilt over Noelle’s unknown fate, Tessa finds herself fading away as much as her best friend did. Hiding behind the lens of a camera, Tessa remains in the background until a new student shows up at school. Compounding this is Noelle’s sudden and unexpected return, only to experience the same wrenching feelings to learn her best friend is nothing like the girl she remembers. This book chronicles Tessa’s internal battles and struggles as much as it does Elle’s, bringing them head to head in a shocking fashion.

Max, the love interest and new guy who tests Tessa, is certainly swoon worthy but underneath his cute personality and curls lies a determined young man who knows what he wants and will go for it. Understanding for the most part, Max begins to fail the same tension and battle as Tessa- except he’s fighting to keep Tessa with him while she struggles to keep Elle. As things progress, the reader will find themselves torn between Max and Tessa, understanding both sides but unable to root whole heartedly for one over the other.

The connections between the characters are strong and taut, weaving them together in many ways- some of which aren’t outwardly visible. Severing one tie does not cut all completely, instead often thrusting another into the light, and the back and forth motion will keep make the reader feel as convoluted as the characters. The title of this book fits brilliantly, having multiple meanings throughout the book and helping to driving the plot.

With raw, intricate writing that is rapt with striking imagery, a wrenching but painfully realistic plot and characters that are too young to be facing these situations yet have been thrust carelessly into them at the hand of one man make this book a worth it though heartrending read. An emotional roller coaster with a few missing sections of track, this is a book that will gut but leave the reader changed. The development of the characters is profound and the final pages are welcomed if only for relief from the world created. This isn’t a book for the fainthearted as it hits on very rough issues but it is, undoubtedly, worth the emotions. This is a very stunning debut highlighting elaborate characters, stunning writing and a mastery of human emotion and turmoil and easily one for the Best Reads shelf.

Source: ARC received for review from publisher
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: EgmontUSA (May 25, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1606840851
ISBN-13: 978-1606840856

Author's Website


  1. WOW this sounds crazy intense, I cant wait to read it, wonderful review.

  2. This sounds like a very powerful read - I want it! :-)

  3. This book sounds amazing! This one is going on my must order soon list :)

  4. I've been hearing so many awesome things about this book and I'm dying to read it. Glad you enjoyed it :) Thanks for the review!

  5. Whoa amazing review! This sounds so good, I can't wait to get a hold of it :D