Title: Cryer’s Cross
Author: Lisa McMann
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books): “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.”
Thoughts: Cryer’s Cross can be summed up in two words: deliciously creepy. On the surface, it is a missing-persons story, focusing on the damage done on the family members and loved ones left behind when someone goes missing. This in and of itself is tragic, and Ms. McMann handles the struggles to maintain a semblance of normalcy with aplomb. Yet, as one begins to make sense of certain sections, told as asides, a growing sense of horror emerges, and the reader quickly realizes that there is more happening in Cryer’s Cross than initially realized.
While the story revolves around Kendall and her reaction to her missing friends, it is really Kendall’s OCD that becomes a major player in its own right. Much has been made in the media of those with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Often, they are ridiculed for their compulsions, with the insinuation that a person with OCD chooses to act like that. Ms. McMann does none of those things. Kendall is neither embarrassed or apologetic for her compulsions but has learned to fight them when possible and accept them when not. She has seen doctors about her disorder, and her parents and friends know it is something she struggles to control. For those of us with OCD, either undiagnosed or diagnosed, Kendall’s struggles will strike home, making her an incredibly sympathetic character. We can relate to the need to straighten a room, a brain that never shuts off, and the desire to find something to make it shut off for a bit. In addition to showing just what it is like to have this disorder, her compulsions become vitally important for the plot, marking a major leap in how OCD is portrayed.
Cryer’s Cross has a little bit of everything to entice the reader: romance, horror, action, suspense, and Gothic elements. At 242 pages, it is a very quick read, but it unfolds in such a way that it demands to be read in one sitting. Ms. McMann draws on the reader’s sympathy, or even empathy, for Kendall to keep the reader engrossed, and this is in no way a hardship. Cryer’s Cross is an engaging stand-alone novel, a rarity these days in the world of young adult fiction, that highlights Ms. McMann’s ability to weave a story. It is definitely not one to be missed!
Thank you to Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab for this advanced reading copy!