Author: Kristina McBride
It’s been two years since Noelle disappeared. Two years since her bike was discovered, sprawled on a sidewalk. Two years of silence, of worry, of fear.The kidnapping of a best friend isn't easy. Just ask Tessa. When Noelle is kidnapped, she is grief-stricken and uses her camera as a shield from people. But when Noelle comes back, Tessa sparks with hope that everything will be back to normal. She's wrong. Noelle, numb and carefree, is a different person to Tessa than what she was two years ago. As they struggle to delicately find common ground, hearts are broken, relationships are mended, and trust will ultimately find its way back.
For those two long years, her best friend Tessa has waited, living her own life in a state of suspended animation. Because how can she allow herself to enjoy a normal high school life if Noelle can’t? How dare she have other friends, go to dances, date boys, without knowing what happened to the girl she thought she would share everything with?
And then one day, someone calls Noelle’s house. She’s alive.
A haunting psychological thriller taken straight from the headlines, The Tension of Opposites is a striking debut that explores the emotional aftermath of a kidnapping on the victim, and on the people she left behind.
The Tension of Opposites is a raw, powerful, and emotional read that explores friendship, love, and grief, as well as divulges into 'forbidden', hard-to-grasp concepts such as the Stockholm Syndrome, in this case, with Noelle. Tessa's relationship with Noelle is awkward and uncomfortable at first, but gradually forms into a strong, supportive bond that helps both Noelle and Tessa cope with the kidnapping. In The Tension of Opposites, love is evident in many relationships; Tessa's and Max's, Noelle's and Tessa's, and their families that support them through this ordeal.
When Noelle is finally back with her family, her presence causes many rumors and evokes many questions within the community. In her journal, and when she is interviewed, her two years in captivity is even more scrutinized. Her humiliation and 'relationship' with her captor is ridiculed harshly by many. Noelle's change in character when she comes back manifests itself in the way she treats Tessa and the way that she throws herself to guys with little self respect. All of this is painfully realistic and palpable in the environment that McBride has created. Since The Tension of Opposites is from Tessa's point of view, readers will empathize with Tessa and really feel frustrated and curious with wanting to find out the real mystery of what happened to Noelle. The reader will be given broken details about Noelle as Tessa strives to dig deeper and try to protect Noelle as well.
Tessa is intensely affected by Noelle's kidnapping and is probed closely by her classmates after the incident. She becomes a lifeless shell when Noelle disappears and hides behind the lens of her camera. Her camera is a shield for her as she sees her surroundings through different eyes. When Noelle comes back, she appoints herself as Noelle's protector and takes Noelle's responsibilities upon herself. She deals with her grief in a way that keeps her from trusting others and opening herself up. At first, she despises Max with all her heart, but like most people, she is helpless against her own emotions and the inner battles raging within her.
Max's character is seemingly simple as Tessa's love interest, but underlying complexities and morals are tangible as you delve deeper into his character. On the outside, his playful, boyish personality is visible, but underneath is a deeper, unflinching, mature teenager that fights for what he wants. His struggles with Tessa show the reader a growing strain in their relationship as he fights to save that last common thread.
The exposition of The Tension of Opposites is detailed and absorbing. McBride writes fluently and fascinates readers with the real meaning of 'the tension of opposites'. The mystery, along with the significance of photography is greatly portrayed in this psychologically and emotionally persisting novel. Many of the characters are calloused and imperfect but the connections they make are completely worth it. (A+)
The Bottom Line: A completely amazing debut that captures so much raw turmoil and provokes real, powerful emotions in readers.
My reaction/enjoyment: 10/10
Total Score: 98/100 (A+)