Dec 22, 2019

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Teen Tristan Strong's father and grandfather were famous boxers who want him to follow the family tradition -- he has the physique for it --but he would really rather do nerd things with his best friend Edward.  They make up stories, which Edward records in a journal.

You've got my attention.  

When Edward dies,Tristan is so distraught that he starts to hallucinate, seeing a green light glowing from the journal.  No one else can see it. His parents send him to Grandpa's farm in Alabama, hoping that a change of scenery will help.

Definite gay subtext!  I'm listening.

On his first night on the farm, a strange doll-like being, the Gum Baby, appears in his room and steals the journal.  Tristan pursues her to a Bottle Tree, and accidentally punches one of the bottles, opening up a hole in the sky.  They fall through into a scalding-hot ocean, pursued by ships made of human bones.  They are rescued by Ayanna, a girl-warrior...

Uh-oh.  The Girl!  I'll just skip ahead to the last chapter to see if they fall in lo--ooo---ove.  

All clear.  Tristan is talking to the Gum Baby and someone named High John (High John the Conquerer Root from African-American voodoo?)

Ayana is piloting a boatload of survivors from a disaster of some sort, including humans and talking animals. Like Brer Fox....

What the heck is going on? 

Tristan is trapped in the Midpass, a world populated by figures from African-American folklore. Such as the old trickster god Brer Rabbit.  And John Henry, the super-muscular 19th century railroader with the  

His story actually involves convict leasing (African-American men were arrested for the crime of being black and put to work on railroads and in coal mines, basically slavery by another name).

Whoa, heavy.  African-American folklore was born in adversity.  

When Tristan meets John Henry, he has to stop himself from asking to touch hammer.  

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.  Is this kid canonically gay?

That would be telling.  It's a nonstop race, with things trying to kill or eat them every moment, to the Warren, a temporary haven against the darkness that threatens to encroach all of the land.  There a council consisting of Brer Rabbit, John Henry, and a lesbian couple from the folktale "The People Could Fly" discuss the Book (which has been lost) and discover that Tristan is...guess what...the Chosen One.  

Tristan has to be the Chosen One, or else he couldn't participate in the adventure. The adults would just say "Wait here where it's safe."

He has to travel to the other side of the world to convince Anansi the Spider to come out of hiding and repair the hole in the sky. But there are complications.  

Of course.  Otherwise be lousy story.

When he meets High John the Conqueror, the ultimate Power, Tristan finds him him obnoxious, irreverent, and arrogant.

Whoa.  Now I know Tristan is canonically gay!  I'll check out the author, Kwami Mbalia.

Ok, but that's another story: he's  "a husband, father, writer, New York Times bestselling author, and pharmaceutical metrologist, in that order."  He grew up in the Midwest, graduated from Howard University, and now lives in North Carolina. This is his debut novel.

Nothing jumps out at me saying "I'm going to make the protagonist of my young adult novel gay."  But you never know....

No comments:

Post a Comment

No offensive, insulting, racist, or homophobic comments are permitted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...