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Posted October 23, 2010
Xing (pronounced "Shing")is a Chinese American high school freshman, and he only has one friend: Naomi Lee, the only other Asian at his all-white school. Xing is a total outcast. He's not handsome or witty or personable and he has no skills except his angelic singing voice, which he never allows anyone to hear. Unfortunately, all this antisocial behavior means that when kids at his high school start disappearing, Xing is a perfect suspect.
Xing is an interesting character, and though my heart breaks for him, he's not entirely sympathetic. His father brought their family to America, but he died not long after they were all established in the US, so now Xing's mom works two jobs and rarely speaks, while Xing sinks further into his own thought life. The only light in Xing's life is Naomi, and his love for her is palpable and crushing--not so much a love as an obsession. He's like a courtly lover in medieval literature, pining away for a lady he considers to be his superior.
Naomi, for her part, doesn't really help him all that much, I feel. They hang out and she talks about her life, then she'll tell him she's worried about him, but she never really pushes him to do something positive, like a true friend should. She even cuts him down a few times, which is the last thing a guy like Xing needs. Here's where we come to the unsympathetic part--he's always filled with anger and frustration, and though he says that people treat him unfairly (they do) and judge him without knowing anything about him (also true) he doesn't work toward changing people's perception of him. Even when the school's musical director discovers his vocal talent, Xing still keeps to the shadows and avoids interpersonal connections. Also, he's cruel to a girl named Jan Blair, a pitiable outcast who's in even worse emotional shape than he is.
Round about page 40, The Crossing starts to feel almost like a psychological horror story, and since I've been over-trained to find symbolism and plot twists, I went nuts over the details, chasing down any possible outcomes. When Xing was talking to Mrs. Durgenhoff, an elderly border at his house who cooks great food and encourages him, I kept trying to find proof that she might be imaginary. Then I porceeded to do the same thing with every other character, thinking things like, "Mr. Matthewman! Has he interacted with anyone else in the school? He's a kind mentor figure, the type of supportive person you might make up. And ooh, Naomi! Other than being selfish, she's utterly perfect--she can't be real. Or how about Jan Blair? She's so freakishly dark and weird she must be a psychological projection of Xing's bad side!" And so on. The reliability of the narrator is in question, so it really keeps you guessing about what's true. (Note: nothing is as convoluted as I initially thought.)
The Crossing is very well-written, but it's the most depressing book I've read all summer. The protagoinst is a teen, but I wouldn't classify the book as YA--it's much more literary in tone, so don't pick it up if you're looking for comedy, romance, or adventure--it's an exploration of despair and the horror of what can happen to the hearts and minds of marginalized people who aren't treated with compassion and respect.
Posted June 13, 2010
Complex and reverberating, Crossing pulls together several seemingly unrelated elements and weaves them together to create a complex and engaging tale. With intelligent writing, a unique main character and a "who done it" premise, Fukuda has put a memorable spin on both bullying and murder mysteries. A phenomenal world has been built, central to the main character, cataloging the struggles that happen in the present day for a teenage boy who has immigrated from China to the United States . Additional struggles come from the community he lives in- a very white one.
Xing, otherwise known as Kris, is a freshman in high school, holding all the same insecurities as his peers but troubling him more is how ghostlike he truly is. Though he doesn't blend with his classmates in terms of looks and certainly sticks out with is ethnic background, Kris goes unnoticed apart from one student- the only other Chinese girl. Kris is not only the son of two Chinese parents- he was born and spent the first several years of his life in China . He recounts when Naomi first arrived, the two thrust together while she still didn't understand English only to learn she has surpassed him in that she no longer holds a thick accent like he does.
This thick Chinese accent sets him further apart from his peers. The writing, however, is strong and shows a very firm grasp of the English language, driving him a very bold point that though the words coming out of his mouth aren't ideal, he most certainly understands. Kris is not ignorant, actually holding a better grasp of English with a wider vocabulary than some of his peers. This was one of the most notable and defining aspects of the book, making the character very realistic.
Xing is both bullied and ignored; a boy who has slowly changed and hardened over the years at the hands of his classmates. This aspect of the story alone drives the plot but adding another layer is the mysterious serial killer targeting teens at the school. As tension builds and the community grows more scared, just how far apart Xing is from everyone else becomes clearer. The elements continue to pulse and shift until they finally come together for a very startling and gripping ending.
My initial reaction to the ending was dumbfounded, primarily because readers, in general, have an inherent desire for everything to be wrapped up and tied off. This is not the kind of ending presented here- but the one provided is far more powerful. It is one that takes a little while to fully sink in and will remain with the reader for days after. The full scope of things will astound the reader, rendering it astounding and brilliant.
The lasting effects are eye opening and Fuduka has pulled in real world events that have happened in the past few years to drive both the overall points home as well as build the story. Though set in the perspective of a Chinese immigrant, any reader from any background will be able to relate to Kris. There are several surprising plot twists and left hooks thrown. Adding more elements is Kris' journey to find himself, primarily through music and the rediscovery of his ability to sing. Fukuda has artfully weaved together a few different plot lines, all separate and strong enough to create their own story ideas but culminating in remarkable ways.
Posted May 18, 2010
My Rating: 4.5
La Femme Readers Blog
Crossing was an inspiring, powerful, and original novel. I am in awe of Andrew's detailed writing and creative plot. This is definitely a YA book that tackles important issues such as stereotypes, bullying and race. Xing a.k.a. Kris was a clever, misunderstood teenager. Being the second Asian in his school was challenging. However, he did have his best friend Naomi to depend on. Xing had an accent while Naomi was more Americanized and respected among her peers. No one really took him seriously and never cared to let go of their ignorance to get to know him. Its been a while since a main character touched me on a deeper level. I admired his integrity and detected so much promise in his abilities.
The thriller aspect of this book was suspenseful and mysterious. I had no clue who the kidnapper was and was floored when it was revealed. I was caught by surprise and couldn't believe the shocking twist that changed the whole story. I was angered at first but after I thought about it, I understood why Andrew ended it that way. All the elements were put into place and it just made sense at that point. I truly believe this unforgettable plot and ending will stay with me for a while. I recommend this book if you're looking for something unique and real. This story spoke to me and I look forward to reading Andrew's future releases. Plus, I am a fan of Asian culture so, I'd love to see more leading roles with Asian male characters which I believe is lacking in YA.
Posted May 12, 2010
In a school packed with white faces only, Chinese immigrant Xing (pronounced Shing) but called Kris, knows what it is to be on the outside looking in. Ever since he came with his father and mother to the Land of Opportunity he's found himself shunned because of his accent, because his Oriental looks, and because of his parent's low income. The only bright spot in Xing's endless sea of despair lies in the refuge of his best friend Naomi, also a Chinese immigrant, who from day one relied upon Xing as translator and tutor. But tutor has surpassed the teacher and lately Naomi has begun to assimilate in ways that Xing could never accomplish, seeming to leave Xing yet more alone.
After a string of high schoolers from Xing's school turn up missing, the entire town becomes suspicious and frightened and looking for villains on every corner. In his solitary observances, Xing begins to notice seemingly isolated occurrences which lead him closer and closer to the frightening culprit. Though a series of freakishly random coincidences seem to level the finger of suspicion straight at Xing himself.
There are a variety of reasons as to why I picked up Andrew Xia Fukuda's dark debut Crossing. The promise of a young male Asian protagonist who constantly struggled - often without success - to assimilate into American society seemed too tempting a prospect to pass by. Not your usual YA character or hero, Xing proves himself to be compelling and extremely sympathetic narrator as a bully-magnet with deeply-rooted emotions. Every minute detail of the events leading up to the discovery of the kidnapper is painfully recorded, even those that paint Xing in a less than flattering light.
To be honest, I was not expecting such a startling conclusion to Crossing. If anything, due to the prologue I was anticipating the opposite of what actually occurred. Crossing is not a ponies and rainbows novel, it was almost painful at times in fact. It takes a deep, intimate look at how fear of the other can ignite with a single spark, spread like wildfire, and wind up just as deadly. And the prose itself is an unflinchingly honest portrayal of the cruelty of teenagers at its most heartbreaking. But. Crossing was extremely well-written, but I found myself terribly depressed upon finishing. Perhaps I wasn't quite in the right frame of mind for such a stark novel, but I found Crossing to be a little too much on the bleak side without any hope of redemption acting as a counterbalance. Each time it felt like Xing might be on the brink of finding some measure of happiness or a little bit of success, some new catastrophe would inevitably occur sending him right back to square one. Which of course made for a page-turning novel but not one I'd recommend without some hesitation.
Posted May 7, 2010
No text was provided for this review.