Download The Tightrope Walkers Audiobook

The Tightrope Walkers Audiobook, by David Almond Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: David Almond Narrator: Richard Halverson Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2015 ISBN: 9781501221651
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International award-winner David Almond draws on memories of his early years in Tyneside, England, for a moving coming-of-age novel, masterfully told.

A gentle visionary coming of age in the shadow of the shipyards of northern England, Dominic Hall is torn between extremes.

On the one hand, he craves the freedom he feels when he steals away with the eccentric girl artist next door, Holly Stroud—his first and abiding love—to balance above the earth on a makeshift tightrope. With Holly, Dom dreams of a life different in every way from his shipbuilder dad's, a life fashioned of words and images and story.

On the other hand, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to the brutal charms of Vincent McAlinden, a complex bully who brings out Dom's darker desires, awakening something wild and reckless and killing in his nature.

In a raw and beautifully crafted bildungsroman, David Almond reveals the rich inner world of a boy teetering on the edge of manhood, a boy so curious and alive and open to impulse that we fear for him and question his balance—and ultimately exult in his triumphs.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Almond’s magnetic narrative conveys the sounds and heat of the shipyards, the smells of the circus tent where Dom and Holly see the tightrope walkers, the quality of the light at sunset after a satisfying day. And he tells of the tightrope humans walk between social divides, sanity and insanity, faith and doubt, friendship and sex, what we’re born to, what we can rise above—and what traps us. Mesmerizing.”

    Shelf Awareness (starred review)

  • “Powerfully realistic…Almond’s characteristic penetrating writing and finely drawn characters are on full display.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • A tour de force. Almond’s gifted prose sets readers firmly in the grim, gray-skied setting of a post-World War II British town inhabited by deeply layered and well-crafted characters. The use of a thick working-class dialect for many of the protagonists yields immersive dialogue that might have been off-putting in a lesser author’s hands. Dominic’s development takes place among moments of overwhelming bleakness and his experiences with the redemptive powers of human connection and art. The balance between these is precarious and realistic…An absolute must-have.”

    School Library Journal (starred review)

  • “There’s no cool here, no distancing irony or comforting hipness. It’s all intense, profoundly unsettling emotion…The novel is Shakespearean in its breadth, earthiness, and emotional pitch…[A] difficult and brilliant novel.”

    Horn Book (starred review)

  • “Almond poetically plumbs the depths of his 1950s and 1960s childhood to explore themes of violence, war, God, creativity, beauty, death, art, the soul, our animal selves, whether we ever grow up or can really know each other—in short, life.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Teens will feel the events most viscerally—the brutishness, the love, the rejections. Adults, meanwhile, will bring their own world-weary self-knowledge, which cuts in its own way. Wild and reckless, heartbreaking and hopeful—this elegy on life is not to be missed.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “In prose that reads like richly imagistic poetry, Dom sorts through what it means to walk a metaphorical tightrope…The interplay between the characters and their environments results in a stunningly human and humanizing story.”

    Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

  • “Sense of place is everything in Almond’s coming-of-age novel, set in the 1950s shipyards of Tynsdale, England, and Richard Halverson’s heavily accented narration is spot-on. While he makes use of minor dialect changes to distinguish between a variety of characters of different ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, Halverson spends most of the novel giving voice to aspiring writer and son of a ship-builder Dominic Hall. Halverson switches effortlessly between a voice of maturity looking back on childhood and the voice of a child experiencing awe, pain, love, and trauma. In narrating conversations, Halverson illuminates subtle changes in relationships by making use of pauses that are heavy with the weight of what is left unsaid. A rich and rewarding listen. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015 for Teen Books

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About the Author

David Almond has received several major awards, including a Hans Christian Andersen Award, a Carnegie Medal, two Whitbread Awards, an Eleanor Farjeon Award, and a Michael L. Printz Award. He is known worldwide as the author of Skellig, Clay, and many other plays, stories, and novels, including The Boy Who Swam with Piranha. David Almond lives in England.

About the Narrator

Richard Halverson is an actor and producer, known for The Wheel, Mirror, and Anonymous. His audiobook narration has earned an AudioFile Earphones Award.