Lisa McMann Cryer’s Cross
233 pp. Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster) 2011 ISBN: 978-1-4169-9481-7
Summary (From Goodreads): The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on… until Kendall’s boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it’s crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear…and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating…and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico’s mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.
Lisa McMann’s Wake trilogy is one of the most popular set of books in my classroom library. I’m pretty sure I have three copies of each book (Wake, Fade, Gone) and they’re hardly ever on my bookshelf for long. The kids simply love them (I do too, of course!). Once I heard about Cryer’s Cross, it was a given that I’d read it and put it in my class library.
The cover and the summary really intrigued me. First of all, I can’t even imagine living in a town with a population of 212 people! I student taught at a high school with 400 kids which was a huge culture shock for me. Growing up in a town half that size–craziness. I’m used to subdivisions and a 7-11 being within a mile of my house, so this was definitely a high-interest point. Plus, it adds to the eeriness of the story. I like the setting even more because it’s almost like another character in the story when you consider what a big role it plays in all of the character’s lives. One of the main reasons Kendall is so close to Nico is because she doesn’t have many options with such a small group of students at school. The small town forces everyone together and makes it harder to keep secrets.
I really like Kendall’s character. I felt like I got to know her better because of her OCD. She’s always fighting it, but it becomes worse when Nico goes missing. We get to see a more personal side of Kendall while she’s working through her OCD. Kendall works on the farm with her family, and because of this–this is her excuse anyway–she swears too much. I get the impression that she doesn’t really swear too often, so I found myself giggling when she did. One instance in particular reminded me of a well-known scene from the movie A Christmas Story. I don’t know if I should have had this reaction, but I did.
I enjoyed the scenes with Kendall and Jacian; I loved their banter. To be honest, it felt like most of the story focused on Kendall finding herself and building a relationship with Jacian. I wish the story of the desk and what happened to Nico and Tiffany would have been developed more. It was creepy, but there was room for a deeper story and more suspense.
I’m sure my students will be excited to read Cryer’s Cross this coming school year. It’s nice to see another level of Lisa McMann’s writing.