★★★★½Having just finished a book that left me feeling rather “meh” and uninspired, I spent part of Sunday night trawling through Amazon’s YA Kindle selection looking for… something. Something new. Something fun. Something cute. “Ooooo…” I thought to myself as Tight Knit’s cover scrolled into view, “that hat is just abso-freakin’-lutely adorable.” ‘Cause for reals, it is. And I then fired off several memos to myself, because I’m cool like that… Note to Self #1:I must get one. The hat, I mean. Note to Self #2:“Read the blurb. Read the blurb!”“Self, calm down, I’m reading it already! Oh, yeah. Oh, that does sound excellent. Self, may I say you have excellent taste in books?”“Why, thank you, Self. Of course you may.”“You’re most welcome, Self.” Note to Self #3:We… I mean, I must have it. I flew through Tight Knit in a matter of hours, and it was just what the doctor ordered to pick me up out of my bookish doldrums. To be honest, I really thought this book would be a tad fluffier. Knitting club? Grandmothers? Charity Drive? Doesn’t exactly scream edgy, does it? And while it is super cute, Tight Knit also has a wonderfully raw, authentic edge to it. It’s just… life in all it’s wonderfully messy, messed-up complexity, and Lachlan & Talia are just such appealing, compelling, broken characters. Talia & Lachlan. Talia. Talia has had issues with panic attacks and social anxiety since childhood. She’s more or less neglected by her parents, has all of one friend, is terrified of being noticed by others – she’s a wallflower more or less by choice and circumstance. But she has the comfort of her knitting and her grandmother, her Nan, who’s always there for her, who believes in her, who gently pushes her to break beyond her tightly-controlled little world. But when Nan starts getting sick and her bestie betrays her, Talia finds herself faced with the reality of needing to trust in herself. Be warned, she is a crier. But were I in her shoes going through the circumstances she goes through, I’d be crying right there with her. However, though she might be inclined to be a bit tearful, she’s also stronger than she thinks, and her growth as a character throughout the novel is just fantastic and very well done. Lachlan. Oh my. This boy. He’s one messed-up dude with issues – doesn’t really believe in himself, doesn’t believe he can be better than he is, isn’t sure he deserves better than he has or is. Luckily, he has a Gram who believes in him, and who’s determined to see Lachlan grow up into the man she knows he can be. He’s rough-around-the-edges. He’s a boy who’s grown up too fast, who’s seen much of the dark side of the world, and one who’s made life-altering choices he’s not particularly proud of. He knows his Gram loves him and is pulling for him, but he’s not sure it’s worth trying to be better or if he even can. Good thing Nan & Gram are friends… friends who are both in the knitting club. When Gram becomes unable to run the knitting society’s Christmas charity drive due to illness, Talia is forced to step up and take over. When Lachlan gets grounded for sneaking out, Gram forces him to help out as well. [cue the “meet cute”] Lachlan is the kind of guy with a reputation sure to trigger a panic attack, and Talia is nothing like the type of girl Lachlan usually goes for, but in the other they each recognize a kindred soul – something each other needs. But will Lachlan’s dark past come between them? Will Talia ever find that independence and confidence to rely on herself instead of depending on the strength of others to make it through each day? Fans of dual perspective narration will be happy to know that both Lachlan & Talia take turns telling their story – and it is a fantastically strong character-driven story. Typically, with dual perspective narrators there’s one I definitely prefer over the other, but with Lachlan & Talia, I just loved both of them equally and their individual circumstances just tugged at my heart and had me rooting for them to overcome… everything… they must overcome. The Grandmothers. Can I just say how amazing these grandmas are? Sweet, yet tough, both Nan & Gram provide Talia & Lachlan a strong foundation, a safety net, the love they’re lacking elsewhere, and the kick in the pants they both sometimes need. This beautiful, yet understated, tribute to the unfaltering love of a grandparent is just another reason I love this story. Overall. Adorable, yet raw. Cute, yet authentic, in Tight Knit Allie Brennan has woven a compelling novel that explores the ideas of forgiveness, independence, self-worth, redemption, love, family and the people who leave invaluable, lasting impressions upon our lives.