Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Talk - CRYER'S CROSS by Lisa McMann

Before you jump into this week's review, check out my interview over at Jacqueline Gardner's site, in which I dish about my own writing process. Very scientific ;)

As a librarian I should know better than most not to judge a book by it's cover, right? That doesn't mean I'm not susceptible to beauty though, and my very first reaction to Lisa McMann's CRYER'S CROSS was, "Ooooohhh pretty."

Cryer's Cross is a small town, small in the sense that the entire high school population fits inside one room, divided into classes by the grouping of their desks. But a new family is in town, and their arrival means new desks have to be hauled up from storage and added to the mix.

Big deal, right? If you're senior Kendall Fletcher, it's a very big deal. Kendall's OCD demands that she be the first in the classroom every morning, that the desks all be in tight formation, the waste-basket turned so that the dent can't be seen and the window locks triple checked. Her friend since birth and long-suffering admirer Nico understands this quirk, and makes sure they get to school early so that she can address these issues before their lessons start.

But the new desk isn't the only change in school. Sophomore Tiffany Quinn disappeared last spring, leaving behind an empty spot that screams for attention in Kendall's brain, and the desk next to her - Nico's desk - isn't the same one that used to be there. Only her attention to detail would clue her in to the fact that the ancient carvings on the desktop from students of the past is different from the one that used to be there... and that it seems to be changing.

When Nico disappears Kendall's reprieve is to slip into the hyper focus of soccer with the only partner who can keep up with her - the brooding and handsome new arrival Jacian, whose own involvement in the disappearances is a matter of public conjecture. As the clamor in her brain continues to roar at her that something is wrong, the changing graffiti starts to speak to her with a voice - Nico's voice.

I know I usually only give you a recap of the books I review, wanting mostly to give you an introduction  to what I believe is a really good book worth reading. But for this particular one I want to add a note about the character of Kendall. I was intrigued not only by the cover art of this book, but by the idea that the female protagonist suffered from OCD - not something you usually see. Once I got involved I was drawn in by the fact that the OCD does not define Kendall, neither does her intense athleticism or the love-triangle. Instead, all these elements combine to paint a picture of a truly human character, as opposed to a caricature.

It's a great lesson for writers and readers - check it out!

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