Thursday, December 3, 2009

Crossing Stones by Helen Frost

From Amazon:
Eighteen-year-old Muriel Jorgensen lives on one side of Crabapple Creek. Her family’s closest friends, the Normans, live on the other. For as long as Muriel can remember, the families’ lives have been intertwined, connected by the crossing stones that span the water. But now that Frank Norman—who Muriel is just beginning to think might be more than a friend—has enlisted to fight in World War I and her brother, Ollie, has lied about his age to join him, the future is uncertain. As Muriel tends to things at home with the help of Frank’s sister, Emma, she becomes more and more fascinated by the women’s suffrage movement, but she is surrounded by people who advise her to keep her opinions to herself. How can she find a way to care for those she loves while still remaining true to who she is?

I didn't really know what to make of this title. It's a verse novel and the book itself is oddly shaped - it's between the size of a regular juvenile hardcover and a picture book. But I decided to give it a shot and ended up reading it all in one sitting (or laying, because I was in bed when I read it). The story grabbed me fairly early on, and Muriel's voice was strong enough to keep me interested. She's the force behind the story. Occasionally the narrative shifts over to Ollie and Emma, and they have powerful stories of their own, and it all works so nicely together with the theme of self-discovery in a very different time period. At times it does feel like there's a lot going on, especially once the setting shifts from Michigan (I think it's Michigan?) to Washington, but since I was most interested in Muriel, it all kind of worked. Frost has created an intricate work that I didn't even fully appreciate the first time through; thankfully, there are notes at the end of the book. I won't spoil that, because it's part of the sense of discovery that comes along with the book, and it gave me another way to approach the book. The best thing I can think to say is that I don't usually like verse novels, but I really enjoyed this Crossing Stones.

Pair it with:
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan
You Wouldn't Want to Be a Suffragist by Fiona Macdonald

I got this book: from the library

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