Tuesday, May 20, 2008

How well do you really know your teen?

In his author’s note at the beginning of Hold Tight, Harlan Coben writes “The technology used in this book is real. Not only that, but all the software and equipment described are readily available to the general public for purchase. The product names have been changed, but really, who is that going to stop?”

Coben, author of the charming mystery series starring sports agent Myron Bolitar, nowadays writes standalone suspense novels. His latest, Hold Tight, revolves around decisions made by Mike & Tia Baye, whose teenage son Adam has become distant and surly after the suicide of his best friend, Spencer. Worried their son is in trouble, the couple opts to install spy ware on his computer and enable a GPS on his cell phone. Mike is concerned that this violates trust with their son, but as Tia says, “…if it’s a choice of protecting my son or giving him his privacy, …I’m going to protect him.”

What they discover will eventually lead Mike from New Jersey into seamy parts of the Bronx. But the Bayes aren’t the only parents under stress in their neighborhood. And when Adam disappears and two women are brutally murdered nearby, the lives of several families will intersect and collide.

Coben populates his books with characters that are believable and well-drawn. Some here have appeared in previous works, most recently The Woods. The action in Hold Tight is suspenseful and will appeal to most readers. And the technology aspect of the novel makes it very current with today’s issues.

Parents will certainly relate to how hard it is for Mike & Tia to communicate with their children. At what point can you let go and trust them?

And, if the reader lifts the dust jacket, emblazoned on the cover is an excerpt from the book. “Mike held his son’s hand and told him to ‘hold tight,’ and he could feel the little hand dig into his but the crush got bigger and the little hand slipped from his and Mike felt that horrible panic, as if a wave hit them at the beach and it was washing his baby out with the tide. The separation lasted only a few seconds, ten at the most, but Mike would never forget the spike in his blood and the terror of those brief few moments.” Hold Tight.

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