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Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

(Tristan Strong #1)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  4,048 ratings  ·  986 reviews
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 the ...more
Hardcover, 482 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Rick Riordan Presents
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Anisha_book_lover Well, you are going to have to read it to find out.

But the basic idea is this:
"Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he…more
Well, you are going to have to read it to find out.

But the basic idea is this:
"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?"


Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  4,048 ratings  ·  986 reviews

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Rick Riordan
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Don’t get me wrong. Greek myths are great! But you can’t swing a gorgon’s head in any bookstore without hitting at least a dozen Greek-myth-inspired books.

Try finding great adventures based on Western African gods and heroes like Nyame or Anansi. Try finding stories about modern kids who encounter African-American folk legends like High John, John Henry and Brer Rabbit. Those books are a lot harder to locate, despite that fact that millions of kids would relate to those gods and heroes even mor
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs-read
**4.5-stars rounded up**

Hold up. This is a debut!?

I need a moment to wrap my mind around that. One second.

((...a few moments later...))

Y'all, Tristan Strong is a hella ambitious first novel.

I am really dang impressed. Kwame Mbalia, you should be proud!

With the initial swooning out of the way, let's get into the review:

Tristan Strong is a 7th grader who has had a tough time of late. After losing his best friend in a horrific bus crash, Tristan is struggling with his grief and feels like no one u
The Artisan Geek
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
------------------VIDEO REVIEW------------------

FINISHED! What a story, I laughed and I cried, but I mainly laughed! So fun to read a book about African gods!! :D My review will be up next week!! ;)

A HUGE thank you to Disney Hyperion for gifting me a copy of this book! #Blessed

Did I hear that correctly? Black American Gods??? My gosh this book sounds so good!! I can't wait!

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
Cristina Monica
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a solid story. With solid, memorable characters, and an intriguing concept. The writing, also, is solid. The fact that this is a debut is astounding. I completely understand why Rick Riordan picked it for publishing. I would have done the same thing. This story deserves to be out there, because it is not more of the same. The diversity and unusualness of the types of characters/creatures made it exciting to my eyes, from the beginning.

There is even one character that I actively thought r
Juliana (Midnight Book Blog)
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Somehow, this book had me laughing, crying, and screaming “WHOA, plot twist” at my family.

I very much underestimated this book. I think because it’s technically a middle-grade read, I was expecting it to be slow, easy, and predictable. Let me tell you, it was none of the above. I’m not even sure where to begin here, so let’s just go with the characters. Tristan is the most developed protagonist I have read about in a long while. I loved that he wasn’t sure of himself in every step of his quest
Finished reading this at work tonight! Such a great first book by Kwame! Super excited for the sequel now!(:
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book for free as part of an Instagram tour (Storygram Tours specifically) I did to promote the book.

So first off I just want to say that it is incredibly refreshing to read a book about mythology that isn’t Greek. I know very little about African/African American mythology so it was fun to learn about it through reading this book.

Since this is the first book in a new series, it is a little slow. That is understandable since there is a lot of world building and set-up
Ashley Nuckles
Much different than I was expecting, but still a wild ride! I loved Tristan so much!!
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
oh how I love adventurous middle-grades full of witty characters, twists and turns, and lush mythology.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I never wanted to be a superhero as a child, but I wanted to do heroic things. Tristan Strong epitomizes the dreams of young black children who want to do and be both; be heroes/heroines and do heroic things. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky is the Harry Potter for young black children. (A heavy claim, I know.) It is a grabbing combination of African folklore, African American history, African mythology, and the innate magic that is Blackness.

Tristan Strong just lost his best friend. His
Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*
It's a pretty good middle-grade book, with absolutely fantastic cover art, I mean just look at that thing. I am not in the target demographic, so take my comments as you will. I am at least superficially familiar with some of the myths and characters informing this story, with my earliest exposure being the controversial Disney film (aren't they all?) Song of the South, which was never released on home video in the U.S., but since I didn't live there I had access to it.

I would have preferred to
Apr 18, 2018 marked it as anti-library  ·  review of another edition
DUUUUDE. I don't even care that it's MG, Imma read it
Oct 06, 2018 marked it as to-read
The Rick Riordan Imprint is actually here giving us quality content. I'M HERE FOR THIS BOOK. YAAASSSS
Erin Boyington
I hate to feel so lukewarm about a book coming from such a cool storytelling tradition (as soon as I saw that it's based on African-American folklore, I was all over it), but honestly it was a slog. It is a very long book for middle grade, with lots of locations, characters, and SYMBOLISM.

The best parts of the story were in the beginning, where Tristan is interacting with his family. I think Tristan's recurring thoughts on adults are a great theme - adults are always telling him what to do, with
Oct 12, 2020 added it
Poignant. Wonderful. And so necessary for the young ones coming up, needing to see themselves in stories full of adventure, magic, and truth.
This was fabbity fab! I'ave always had a soft place in my heart for John Henry, and I love the Brer Rabbit stories as well. Seeing them, along with other African and African American myths and folktales, brought to life in gorgeous detail, was a delight. And Tristan was pretty great, too. He reminded me of Miles Morales, and I loved how he used his "power." I can't believe this is Mbalia's first book, because it's just . . .well, fab!
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an important series. I am so thankful for Rick Riordan’s ability to raise other amazing writers up.

This book was a wild ride and I loved it. Mythology has never been one of my favorite genres, but this book was just incredible.

We get to travel with Tristan through African (and African American) mythology and legends while he also learns to heal from his own loss.

Loved it. Loved how much I learned about some myths/legends and folklore that I had never been exposed to, and I can’t wai
Nikki S
**EDIT 2/4/2019**

Y'all this cover gave me CHILLS. Like real, legit chills.

**EDIT 10/12/2019**

SWEET PEACHES THAT WAS GOOD! Real review to come.

**EDIT 10/24/19**

You can find more of my reviews here at my blog: Take Me Away...

I have started and restarted this review so many times. I even had to stop one night so I could sleep on it. But I just didn't think I could get this review right. There's so much in this book tto hhat I didn't think I'd ever see in a book, let alone one for kids.

Tristan St
temi ★
Mar 28, 2019 marked it as brother-tbr
Shelves: fantasy, new-2020
definitely getting this for my little brother. the only books he reads that aren’t comic books are about black superhero-types in 7th or 8th grade. he’s a kid of weird taste
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, all-time-favs
my new favorite middle grade!
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the newest additions to the Rick Riordan Presents imprint, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky offers a middle grade adventure story that integrates figures from West African mythology and African American folk heroes as characters. It's fast-paced and action packed with rich symbolism and subtle (for middle grade) messaging about the importance of collective memory and unity among Black people from different places. It's also a story of a seventh-grader from Chicago grieving the dea ...more
Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
This was so much damn fun! I don't know a ton of West African folklore but I know I've interacted with it in very brief capacities through out films and TV and some books. It was cool to have a contemporary setting that pulls in West African folklore. It was all fun and quick. I loved Tristan Strong as a character. His life hasn't been easy but he has pieces that...honestly most people can see a connection to. I am super curious to see how we will fix the fantasy world/setting which was ripped o ...more
3.5 stars. This was fun, action-packed story, even while its main character was dealing with a heavy load of grief and guilt over his best friend's death, as well as the pressures from his family to be someone he doesn't feel he is.
The mix of African and African American myth with a contemporary viewpoint in the main character is nicely handled. Tristan is a good kid who's struggling with multiple things; being catapulted into a magical and mystical realm and having to fight his way through mul
Annemieke / A Dance with Books
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2020, 4-star
Tristan Strong was my most anticipated middle grade read for 2019 and of course that meant I put it off. I shouldn’t have. It was great. I ended up reading it with Sammie and Leelynn. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with me and discussing the book.

This is a really important book for African(-American) youths because it stands strong amidst the themes of slavery within the African (-American) folklore and legends. I think Leelyn talks about this theme better in her review than I as a wh
Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary |
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia took me right out of my comfort zone of known mythos and plunked me down in an unfamiliar world that I ended up totally invested in.
I loved the main character. Tristan Strong – who feels like he’s failed every time something important has happened – has no desire to be a hero. If he tries, who knows what else bad will happen. I feel that. Feel that down to my bones. I know there are many younger readers who will be unfortunately familiar w
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Chicago teenager Tristan Strong is sent to his grandparents in Alabama for the summer after his friend Eddie is killed in an accident. On his first night there, a creature steals Eddie's journal and Tristan chases him into the woods, where Tristan accidentally punches a hole into the ground near a bottle tree, breaking one of the bottles and tearing a hole into another realm. He and the creature (Gum Baby) (the thief) fall into the realm taking a freed haint with them. Tristan finds himself in a ...more
Not rating this one. Middle grade fantasy just isn't for me. I suspected that might be the case but my book club had chosen this one and I thought I'd give it a try. But after 5 chapters, I knew this wasn't my thing. I'm sure it's a great book for anyone who loves this genre. My son loves all of Rick Riordan's stuff so I'm going to give this one to him and I'm sure he'll love it.
Absolutely earns the hype. Fantastic coming-of-age story, full of american folklore and joyous afrofuturism, built around a core of grief and how it must be acknowledged but not allow it to overcome you.

Definitely went through some culture shock with how everybody just says what's on their mind, good and definitely bad, (cue Jasmine doing canadian shock and "you can't just say things like that" faces), but once I shook myself clear of that it was just a delight.
Ms. Yingling
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Tristan's parents send him from his home in Chicago to stay with his grandparents in Alabama for the summer so that he can try to find a new way forward after the death of his best friend Eddie in a bus accident. He feels inadequate for several reasons; he failed to save his friend, he doesn't box as well as his father, and his Granddad thinks he is soft and doesn't work hard enough. His Nana, who tells him lots of stories, is the only one who seems to understand.
Karly Grice
One of the best children’s books I’ve read in a long time. It’s American Gods meets Neverending Story meets Wizard of Oz. It’s a love letter to storytelling and African American culture. So much heart and humor, so smart and challenging. When people ask me what makes good children’s books, my answer is often “it respects children and their capabilities/sensibilities”; Mbalia has done just that. All teachers and children’s lit peeps should move this book up on their must read list and put it in y ...more
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Black fists in black gloves delivering black power two jabs at a time.”
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