Brooklyn writer uses Red Hook housing projects as backdrop for new novel

Photos courtesy of Penguin Random House

“Tight” by Torrey Maldonado is a fast-paced novel for middle-grade readers, that emphasizes the importance of finding your own identity, choosing friends you can depend on, and the power of walking away from a one-sided friendship.

Bryan is feeling tight in all kinds of ways — good and bad. He’d rather stay chill and go with the flow, but what can he do when he’s constantly being told he needs to toughen up?

Bryan has a good idea of what’s tight to him — reading comics, drawing superheroes, and hanging out with no drama. His mom has always encouraged his quiet, thoughtful nature, but his dad is different.

He thinks it’s time for Bryan to toughen up and tells him it’s better for a man to be feared than to be liked. Meanwhile, Bryan befriends Mike — a kid with some risky ideas about how to have fun. At first hanging out with Mike is a rush as the boys start cutting school and jumping subway turnstiles to go train surfing. But Bryan never feels quite right when he’s acting wrong, and Mike ends up pushing him too far. Now, Bryan has a decision to make — what choice will he make now that he’s in a tight situation?

Author Torrey Maldonado grew up in the Red Hook housing projects, which serve as the backdrop for his new novel “Tight.”

Despite feeling pressure from so many different directions, Bryan knows he can always find solace in the world of superheroes. Bryan and Mike first hit it off when they discover their shared love of comic books, particularly those that feature characters who look like them, including Black Panther, Luke Cage and Spider-Man’s Miles Morales.

Moviegoers who sold out Marvel’s “Black Panther” at the box office and readers who made Jason Reynolds’ “Miles Morales: Spider-Man” a bestseller will easily relate to Bryan’s affinity for these masked heroes.

Maldonado grew up in Brooklyn in the same Red Hook housing projects depicted in “Tight.” He now teaches middle school in the same neighborhood. His knack for writing a spot-on middle grade voice comes from his experience working with his students. In addition to “Tight,” he is also the author of the critically acclaimed novel “Secret Saturdays.” Both of Maldonado’s novels were inspired by his students.

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