Book Review – Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia


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 notebook. 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 folk heroes 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?

My Review

5 out of 5 stars


This is definitely going to be one of my top favorite books of the year. I really enjoyed learning about the African American folktales and West African mythology that this story focuses on.

I was invested in the story from the start and flew through the book because I just had to keep reading. There was a twist I didn’t see coming at all which left me even more eager to finish the story to see how everything would turn out.

Gum Baby was hilarious and is one of my favorite characters. My heart ached for Tristan for the grief that he was holding on to and the expectations and pressure that’s put on him. I loved seeing him grow throughout the book and can’t wait to read the next one!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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