Book Review: Cryer's Cross

Author:  Lisa McMann
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster (February 8, 2011)
Audience: Young Adult
Source: Personal Copy

Description 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.

When I first read WAKE by Lisa McMann, I think I started it at 11 at night and finished it a couple of hours later.  I was struck by her writing voice.  It was different and I found it unique.  Of course, when I heard Lisa talk about Cryer's Cross at a Wake/Fade/Gone book signing (a year before Cryer's Cross was released), I knew I wanted to read it.  

Immediately upon starting Cryer's Cross, I felt drawn back into McMann's unique writing voice though this book is in many ways different from the Wake Series.  From the beginning of the book, I felt as if McMann grabbed me and pulled me right into the story and the feeling didn't let up until the end.  And even then, I was a bit haunted afterward and kept thinking about it.  The main character, Kendall, is a quirky narrator thanks especially to her OCD.  It certainly gives her a unique perspective on the events happening in her tiny community.  First, there is a disappearance of a high school freshman, Tiffany, which pulls the town together as they search for her.  Then, just after the summer and the start of the school year, Cryer's Cross faces another disappearance.  This time Kendall's boyfriend Nico.  Things are complicated with the arrival of Jacian and his family.  Does this new boy have anything to do with their disappearances?  And what is happening to the teenagers of Cryer's Cross.

For me, Cryer's Cross had several elements that I truly enjoyed.  Less than perfect but relate-able characters, just the right level of creepiness, a mystery to solve, and a potential romance that doesn't just happen because the characters glanced at each other one time.  I also enjoyed the fact that the book never dragged on.  I have heard some mixed feelings on this.  Criticisms that McMann doesn't develop certain aspects of the book because it is so short.  However, I never once felt confused or that there wasn't enough information about something.  The addition of her main character having OCD also allowed McMann to write a few things in and have it be believable/understandable.  The small-town element of the story provided the perfect back drop to the story.  Rather than have non-existent parents, McMann writes in parents, and grandparents, and all kinds of small town neighborly connections.

When I arrived at the end, I found myself feeling satisfied that the story felt appropriately wrapped up.  However, parts of me wanted to hang out more, especially with Jacian and Kendall.  For fans of Cabel (Wake/Fade/Gone), you'll understand when I say that Jacian might just eventually capture your heart as well.  I think I might just have a new fictional crush.  For fans of Lisa McMann, you will love this...but I am warning you, it might be best to read it in the daytime.

Lisa McMann at Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica; Cryer's Cross Tour


Below is the book trailer for Cryer's Cross:

Here is a chance to listen to author Lisa McMann talk about Cryer's Cross: