I really loved Lisa McMann’s Wake trilogy, so I was thrilled to hear she had a new teen/YA supernatural thriller out, Cryer’s Cross. This novel succeeds on two levels: as a creepy ghost story and as a sensitive real-life portrait of a young girl with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Kendall has lived all of her seventeen years in Cryer’s Cross, Montana, a small farming community of only about 200 people. The quiet town was rocked the previous spring when a young high school student disappeared and was never found. The tragedy also disturbed Kendall’s OCD, but now she is struggling to get it back under control for the new school year. Two new students join the tiny high school, with just six students in each grade, when they move to their grandfather’s farm.
When another student disappears, the town erupts in chaos and heartbreak once again. Kendall begins to hear strange voices and find mysterious graffiti on the desk of one of the missing students that she finds strangely compelling. The creep factor multiples from there.
My 17-year old son and I listened to Cryer’s Cross on audio and absolutely loved it; the narrator, Julia Whelan, an actress and award-winning audio reader, does a great job. In fact, my son enjoyed it so much that he didn’t wait for me to finish it. When we got back from our car trip partway through the audio, he immediately picked up the hardcover book and finished reading the story that same afternoon! He enjoyed the suspense but also the many soccer passages.
It certainly is a spooky supernatural story, but I was most impressed with the novel’s character development, especially the way it deals with Kendall’s OCD. The author’s acknowledgements say that she based the character of Kendall on her own daughter with OCD “…in the hopes that others might understand or find some comfort,” and I think she succeeds at that goal. In fact, the supernatural elements are almost beside the point. We both thoroughly enjoyed this multi-faceted teen novel.