I love a Harlan Coben, book or movie. I hadn’t read Hold Tight, a 2008 Coben standalone, so when I saw Hold Tight pop up on Netflix – in Polish – I had to know more. Are you wondering: how is the book of Hold Tight different from the Netflix series? Wondering if you should watch Hold Tight? Check out Page to Screen: Hold Tight by Harlan Coben: from the book to the Netflix show! You can find all my Page to Screen posts here!
NOTE: this post will contain book and series spoilers for Hold Tight by Harlan Coben, but spoilers for the ending are marked!
Page to Screen: Hold Tight by Harlan Coben
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Synopsis of Hold Tight (book) by Harlan Coben
To understand the book of Hold Tight by Harlan Coben, you have to take yourself back in time to the world of 2008. Apple released the iPhone not even a year before, so most people were still using their Motorola RAZR or their Blackberry Pearl. Kim Kardashian had become famous after a certain racy tape was released (yes, this is relevant). Desperate Housewives was a hit show. These, I think, are some of this book’s influences.
The book Hold Tight centers around a suburban New Jersey family: Mike Baye, a surgeon, his lawyer wife Tia, and their kids Adam and Jill.
The inciting incident of the book is Mike and Tia deciding to put spyware on their son’s computer, as he’s been acting strangely lately. (Back in the early 2000s, all parents were convinced that the greatest danger of the internet was pedophiles lurking in chatrooms.) Immediately, Tia reads a strange message (probably on something like AOL Messenger) from someone named CeeJay, telling Adam to stay quiet about something and “hold tight.”
In another subplot, a creepy twosome named Nash and Pietra abduct a woman in an attempt to recover a tape.
Mike and Tia’s neighbor Betsy Hill is still struggling with the fact that her son Spencer recently took his own life. She finds a photo of Spencer that she hasn’t seen before, one taken on the last night he was alive. Since his friend Adam is in the photo, she asks Adam about it, but he is evasive.
Mike and Tia’s other neighbors, Susan and Dante Loriman, are trying to find a kidney for their seriously ill son, Lucas. But testing for a donor match reveals that Dante Loriman is NOT Lucas’s biological son.
Mike learns that his son Adam’s phone has a GPS chip that can track the phone (whoa in 2008 this was cool stuff!) to the house of a kid called DJ, the son of a local cop. He tells Mike that there’s no party and that Adam isn’t there. Mike follows Adam’s phone to a club in NYC. He asks about Adam, gets attacked and beaten, and wakes up in a hospital.
Loren Muse, investigating the abduction, gets a tip about Reba, another woman abducted at Target. She and prosecutor Paul Copeland wonder why two women from the same area vanished on the same day.
Jill, Mike’s daughter, has a best friend called Yasmin, who is being bullied at school after an offhand remark by a teacher, Joe Lewiston. Yasmin shows Jill her dad’s gun.
Tia discovers that someone was reading Adam’s emails at a time he wasn’t at home and wonders who that was. (lol, life before smartphones…)
Mike gets a tip about Club Jaguar, a popular teen hangout. He goes there and the FBI nabs him. They tell Mike they are investigating “pharm parties” where kids swap and sell prescription drugs. They show him a stack of prescriptions allegedly written by him. Tia and her boss Hester Crimstein arrive to serve as Mike’s counsel.
Susan explains Lucas was born as a result of a rape that she never reported. Joe Lewiston, the bully teacher, hacks into his wife Dolly’s email. Loren Muse shows up at Yasmin’s house asking to talk to Guy, her father. Guy assumes it’s about Dolly and Joe Lewiston, whom he’s been harassing. But they want to talk to Guy because he is the ex-husband of Marianne, the first abducted woman. Guy tells Loren, who’s trying to establish a connection between the two abducted women, that Marianne and Reba were friends.
Adam calls Betsy and says that what happened to Spencer was his fault. They had a fight over a girl and Adam punched Spencer. Then Spencer killed himself.
Nash and Pietra, the kidnappers, have a connection to Joe Lewiston: Joe is the brother of Cassandra, Nash’s ex. They all thought Marianne was sending some kind of revenge porn emails to Joe’s wife Dolly, but the emails have continued after Marianne’s death. The Club Jaguar people decide to “get rid” of Mike and Adam.
How Does the book Hold Tight End? SPOILERS ahead!
Nash and Pietra arrive at Guy and Jasmine Novak’s house. Tia also shows up.
What Was the Tape that Nash and Pietra Were Looking For?
Marianne, Yasmin’s mom, confronted Joe about his role in the bullying of her daughter. Marianne slept with Joe and filmed it, threatening to send the tape to Dolly. Jill gets away from Nash and Pietra and finds the gun that Yasmin showed her. She shoots Nash.
Who is Responsible For the Stolen Prescription Pads?
The FBI questions Adam about forged prescriptions. Betsy comes into the room and tell the FBI that Spencer was the one who stole Mike’s prescription pads. (Yes, remember that doctors used to write prescriptions on little slips of paper!)
Who Kept Emailing the Sex Tapes to Guy’s Wife?
After everything seems to be over, Tia wonders who sent Adam that very first message about the party at DJ’s that never existed. It turns out Jill, worried about Adam, was the one who sent it. Jill was a busy girl. She also sent a warning email to Guy about securing his gun AND emailed the video of Joe having sex with with Marianne to Dolly Lewiston after Yasmin found the video on her mom’s phone. Nash killed Marianne and Reba for no reason at all, since Marianne never sent the video.
How is the Netflix series of Hold Tight Different from Harlan Coben’s book?
First off, I didn’t realize that Hold Tight is the second Polish adaptation of a Harlan Coben book, and that both series have crossover characters. Netflix also has a Polish series of The Woods, a 2007 book that features the Paul Copeland character (called Pawel Kopinski in The Woods and Hold Tight, and also featuring his partner Laura Goldsztajn (Lucy in the book The Woods). In the book Hold Tight, Paul marries Lucy.)
Here are the other major changes between the Netflix series and the book:
So a major and obvious change is that the setting of Hold Tight moves in the Netflix series from New Jersey to Warsaw, Poland.
I liked this change – I don’t mind subtitles (hate dubbing) and enjoyed getting to see Warsaw.
The Netflix series of Hold Tight gender flips the main character
Main character Mike, the suburban New Jersey surgeon who played hockey at Dartmouth, has become Anna, an sports medicine doctor who does martial arts. Anna and her husband Michal (hi, Mike!) have two children, Adam and Ola.
The Netflix series ages Paul’s daughter Cara way up
The show ages Cara Copeland up from a seven year-old in the book to a teenager named Kaja Kopinska. In the series, Kaja is Adam’s girlfriend and plays a huge role in looking for Adam when he goes missing. As mentioned above, Paul Copeland (Pawel in the series), was a widower who has since married Laura, who is the guidance counselor at Kaja and Adam’s school.
In the Netflix series, Susan Lorimer’s secret shifts to a new character
The book uses the DNA testing differently. In the book, Mike’s neighbor Susan is the one who discovers that her husband wasn’t the biological father of their son. But in the series, that becomes Anna’s storyline. When they are testing blood found on Adam’s wallet, the police discover that Michal, Anna’s husband, isn’t Adam’s biological father. Anna confesses that she was drugged and raped at her bachelorette party and never told Michal.
In the Netflix series of Hold Tight, Yasmin takes on a larger role
Jasmina (Yasmin in the book) is the one who shoots Natan (Nash) the abducter of the women, with her father Guy’s gun. She is also the one who sends the sex tapes to the teacher’s wife. (I think this makes a lot more sense, actually). I can’t remember if the series shows who sent the warning to Guy about securing his gun. In the book it was Jill.
In the Netflix series of Hold Tight, there is a third abduction not in the book
Creepy kidnappers Natan and Wiera (Nash and Pietra in the book) abduct Nika, Kaja’s friend, because they think that she owns the tablet that is sending the sex tapes of Tadeusz (the teacher) with Marianne. Fortunately, she is able to get away and aid the police in their investigation. In addition, Joe’s relationship to Natan in the series is now that they served in Afghanistan together.
The Netflix series of Hold Tight has a slightly different ending!
The book pretty much suggests that poor Spencer was behind the prescription pad stealing. The series, probably to leave open the possibility of a season two, has main character Anna suspicious of her own son’s involvement. Surely Adam must have had something to do with it. Also, the show has a flashback of Adam, Gajos and Blazej moving Igor’s body, suggesting that the viewer doesn’t know everything about his death.
Will there be a season two of Hold Tight?
I don’t see any official announcement, but you never know!
Character List for Hold Tight (Netflix Series)
I struggled a little to get all the names as I was watching, so I hope this helps you! The subtitles are sometimes inconsistent and characters also have nicknames.
Anna Barczyk (also called Anya/Anka) is a sports medicine doctor and martial arts enthusiast
Michal Barczyk – her husband
Adam Barczyk – their teenage son
Ola Barczyk – (Jill in the book) their daughter
Kaja Kopinska– (Cara in the book) Adam’s girlfriend and Pawel Kopinsky’s daughter
Nika Reszke – Kaja’s close friend
Gajos and Blazej – Adam’s “friends” (I called them bowl cut and man bun)
Boris Gajewicz – Gajos’s father, a lawyer (in the show he sort of takes Hester Crimstein’s place).
Pawel Kopinsky – (Paul “Cope” Copeland in the book) former prosecutor and close friend of Anna and Michal
Laura Goldsztajn-Kopinsky – Pawel’s wife and Kaja’s stepmom
Jasmina Nowak– (Yasmin Novak in the book) Ola’s close friend; being bullied
Janusz Nowak – (Guy Novak in the book) Jasmina’s dad who runs a grocery store
Tadeusz Lewicki (Joe Lewiston in the book) – teacher of Ola and Jasmina
Natan and Wiera – (Nash and Pietra in the book) the kidnappers
Ewalina Miller – (Loren Muse in the book) investigator on the abduction case
Franciszek Trybala – Ewalina’s fellow investigator
Joanna Makowska – runs “Guru” and the pharma drug ring (called Club Jaguar in the book)
Beata Hall – (Betsy Hall in the book) mom of Igor, Adam’s friend who took his own life
Is the Netflix Series of Harlan Coben’s Hold Tight Good?
I thought six episodes was a lot and four would have been plenty!
As detailed above, I thought the show made some good changes and made the show even more female-forward than the book. A theme of the series was strong women, from Anna to Kaja to Nika to Ewalina Miller to Jasmina. The show even made the pharma party boss/villain a woman!
I loved having Mike gender-flipped in the show to Anna and thought that aging up Paul Copeland’s daughter to be Adam’s girlfriend made a lot of sense.
In the book, I thought the abduction and sex tape plot was weird and didn’t make a lot of sense. A mom whose child has been bullied decides to, of all things, sleep with the person responsible? And then keeps the tape on her phone where her child finds it? The bullying plot was great in the show (and is still very relevant in 2021) but I feel that the sex tape subplot could have been rethought.
I thought the twist of having young Jasmina (Jill in the book) be the one behind the revenge plot was surprising. My husband, who watched the series with me, was less impressed.
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