The 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.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Noelle is gone.
And she’s not coming back.
My name is Elle.
Not the narrator one would think to pick with so many other options to choose from like the younger brother who read solid, or the family that had turned to religion, or most interesting of all: the girl newly returned. Instead, this goes beyond the core of who’d suffered directly, to someone not quite connected, but not all that disconnected either. Through the eyes of the victim’s best friend, TENSION is not really not about what Elle had gone through but more about answering ‘What now?’
Though it’s not outright stated, I feared that all Tessa’s glimpses of the past, snapshots of what they’d been was her laying down the foundation of expecting them to pick up where they’d left off. Two years, gone and that’s so obviously not possible. Thankfully, it’s not the case either. Because while Elle’s been kept, Tessa’s been keeping herself apart too. The bigger question is WHY. And it’s here where I began to feel less than enthusiastic over things.
Because it’s not just about Elle and moving on and healing (though that’s a part of it); it’s more about how Tessa’s put Elle in this little box as well as how she’s assigned herself the other’s keeper (sort of). Made even more complicated by Tessa finally, finally coming out of her shell. Because flashback two years past, and one is made aware that where Tessa’s the shy one, it’s Noelle who breathed life into whatever they were up to. The conclusion, according to Tessa, No Noelle, no life either. With this mindset, she’s put Elle first, even when the latter didn’t want it, even when significant other didn’t want it.
Focusing on Elle was understandable at first but then a little frustrating. Because eventually, I did understand how Max saw things except not all the way because his moves were sometimes maddening too. Pursed lips and raised brows on his part, never really saying what was till’ that critical moment? Poorly time, my friend. That mentioned we turn to the girl who’d come home. There’s supposed to be this transition made, but with question of how’s and why now’s, it’s also obviously not going to be an easy one. A process rendered almost impossible with everyone else walking on egg shells and questions they’re dying to ask but dare not do.
She used to shine brighter than anything I had ever known.
But the girl who walked away from me was dark.
Somehow, strangely rough.
I didn’t know her at all.
A different take on a touchy topic, and while I was expecting more out of it, it managed to hold my attention and even have me wondering at the other girl’s ability to put the other one first… Every. Single. Time.
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