Author: Lisa McMann (author website)
Release Date: February 8th 2011 from Simon Pulse
Age Group: Young Adult
Lisa McMann's WAKE series established her, for me, as a brilliant, if unexpected and unpredictable author (in a good way--A VERY good way). Cryer's Cross reaffirms this. This outing is eerie, sinister, and utterly gripping. On an aside, this book is called The Missing, in the UK.
The tiny town of Cryer’s Cross is shocked when a local schoolgirl disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, sixteen-year-old Kendall is freaked out by seeing the empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend disappears.
Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects the missing. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk that they both sat at… Then she begins receiving messages. Can her boyfriend be alive somewhere? How can Kendall help him? The only person who will listen is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating... and attractive.
As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into the mysterious disappearances only to stumble upon some ugly – and deadly – local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far people will go to keep their secrets buried...
Let me say that the blurb for this book is terribly misleading. The community is not trying to hide any secrets at all. Cryer's Cross is a small rural community, with a population of less than 250. When a school student goes missing, the tiny population is shocked to its core, but slowly returns to normal. Life goes on, but then 16 year old Kendall Fletcher's boyfriend, Nico, who she's known all her life, disappears also. Struggling to cope with her OCD, and the loss of the boy and best friend she's never known life without, Kendall tries to piece her life back together. But she's drawn to the one thing both Nico and missing girl, Tiffany, shared in common: a school desk. And she swears she's noticed graffiti scratched into it that looks fifty years old, yet wasn't there before... but that's crazy, right?
Cryer's Cross is addictive, from page one. The disappearance of one girl was sad, but you could feel the town settle back into its normal routine; life going on, and leaving a shattered family behind. When Kendall's best friend/boyfriend, Nico, disappears, the town is not the same, and the events and mystery that follow kept me flicking through the pages holding my breath. Between chapters, the book's peppered with short passages that are both sinister and obscure, and add to the creepy atmosphere of the story.
Lisa McMann has a unique way of writing that feels incredibly intimate. When Nico vanishes, Kendall's world is shattered. I felt the heavy, oppressive weight of her grief, and I cried real tears with her. When her hope of his return lapsed into doubt, then hollow acceptance, I felt her despair and depression. I felt empty inside when she realized her goals and dreams had been torn from her, but kept on keeping on. What Kendall experiences in this book is painful, real, and very serious. This is not a light, fun, weekend read: Cryer's Cross is emotionally intense, dark, and seriously creepy.
Given McMann's unique writing style, I'm inevitably drawn to make comparisons to Janie, from the WAKE series. Kendall feels younger than Janie, but this doesn't feel wrong. Kendall is from a very small rural community, and she's a lived a quiet, sheltered existence. She hasn't experienced half of what Janie had, and rather than a protagonist already as damaged as Janie (though not without her issues), we witness a loss of that innocence. Kendall suffers from OCD, and experiencing the burden this with her is heavy, but fascinating. She's an interesting character, and she's engaging. As is Cryer's Cross in its entirety.
I'm not sure what else to say--with this book, the less you know, the better. I was constantly questioning what was going on, what would happen next, and completely in the dark the whole time. It's FANTASTIC.
Eerie, dark, haunting and heartbreaking, Cryer's Cross is gripping YA fiction at its best. No vampires, no werewolves or faeries here. A fantastic offering from the consistently brilliant Lisa McMann.
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