High school student Malakai Thomas, star wide receiver of the varsity team, collides with band member Lily Morgan on his way to football practice. As days go by, Malakai cannot get the petite clarinetist out of his head.
Lily Morgan can feel everyone’s emotions. She loses her ability to shield herself against them the day Malakai runs into her. Now she must try to maintain her sanity in the emotional jungle that is high school, as well as deal with her growing feelings for Malakai.
Can Malakai get over the social stigma and his own internal struggle to be with Lily? Is Lily’s secret too big to accept, even for him?
I thought I knew what I was getting into when I started this book. What I got was not what I expected – probably because I dove in, and didn’t check to make sure I knew what it was classified as. I’m not a sports fan (to be honest, I don’t even pay attention to much on the TV) and I’m not a romance fan (“eww, sappy sweet!”) just so you know where I’m starting from. This book, however IS a sports oriented, young adult romance.
With that said, I enjoyed the read. I didn’t really want to come back to reality until the story itself gently brings you back after sweeping you in and carrying you along on an interesting ride. However, just a day later, I have vague impressions that linger, rather than actual events in the story. It may be due to my reading preference, or it could be because of the genre – I’ve had other “coming of age books” leave the same vague impressions with me after I’d finished them. I’ll try to pin down the bits I do remember clearly.
Now, on to the nuts and bolts I look at:
The need for world building was minimal, as this is set in almost modern day U.S.A. Earth and just about any large high school could work as the back drop for the events that occur. The few bits and pieces that do need to be clarified – the living conditions for the core cast – are slowly developed as needed, rather than just dropped in all at once.
The other part of the world building that’s unusually critical, is the sociopolitical aspect of what’s going on. There is a steady build up of knowledge as the book progresses. Once in a while a piece feels out of place, but those are highlights for something that is either about to occur, or has happened within a page or two and is being revisited. Until the end – the structured build up feels like it devolves into chaos, and I can’t really tell why.
The protagonist cast is well done – there is an obvious growth arc for each of them from the beginning until about 3/4 of the way through. At this point, one of the cast falls apart, becoming a jumbled collection of pieces rather than an actual person. The other three continue to grow and develop. I think the one who “shatters”, for lack of a better term, does so in a realistic manner and so I don’t feel as if the remaining events are out of place.
The antagonist cast, on the other hand, are shadows. They are there, they force the protagonists to respond, but only one is really a “person” to contend with. The peers painted in for the protagonists to contend with just never develop beyond the shallow sketch in which they are first presented. A bit of a disappointment, actually.
There are two secondary characters in this book that I think are going to feature more heavily in future installments. Both feel like cameo, foreshadows of who they are, and what they’ll mean to the story going forward. Until the last character is introduced, Crossing the Barrier is a wonderfully character driven plot. With the introduction of the last, the entire feel of the story changes to be more of a plot driven story. This may account for the feeling of abrupt dislocation that occurs at the end of this installment.
Overall, the pacing was well done – there is a natural ebb and flow to the action that centers properly on the activities of the cast. The only place things started feeling a little rushed was in the last 1/4 of the book. I think this is because the focus was shifting from a character driven story to a plot driven. As I read through, I almost felt like I’d been kicked in the backside and catapulted forward into an entirely new story. This could be because of a plot hole along the way, or because Martine was trying to stay within a certain word count, yet still get all the loose ends tied up before the book ended.
And that brings me to the reason for the sense of a satisfying read, but no real impressions. There are a multitude of small attention things along the way that kept me interested, but it felt a bit like watching a soap opera – no clear reason for what was going on. Until the end when everything exploded. I know the description says “two worlds collide” and the two “worlds” are clearly defined quickly in the beginning. I think this may be because I’m not a big fan of romance-style stories, and so I kept waiting on the “Important” event to develop like I’m used to in sci-fi or fantasy books and the event was something else entirely that I missed.
Overall, this doesn’t quite hit a five star read, but it’s close, so I’m giving it a 4.5 out of 5. It was enjoyable and came to a satisfying conclusion. There are a few threads deliberately started so the next book in the series can pick them up and run with them, which I’ve done myself. For those who enjoy coming of age or light YA romance, this would definitely be a book I’d recommend to them, especially to younger readers. There’s nothing graphic, which I’m finding harder and harder to come by.
If you enjoyed the review, and wish to pick up a copy of Crossing the Barrier, you can find it on Amazon here. If you wish for me to read and review one of your works, please fill out the simple submission form on my Offered Services page and I’ll get back to you soonest to discuss details.
About the Author:
Martine Lewis is a forty something who was born and raised in the French speaking province of Quebec, Canada. She spent her childhood looking forward to her summer vacations at the farm, which were a nice escape from the suburbs where she lived.
Her first written endeavor was a 200-page handwritten Duran Duran bandfiction which she wrote when she was eleven years old. Of all her written work, this is the only one she no longer has.
All throughout high school, Martine wrote more bandfictions and some original work, then she went to write fanfictions in the Star Wars, Buffy and Harry Potter universes. Her fanficiton in the Potterverse are mostly centered on characters of her own creation and can be found on fanfiction.net.
Following her viewing of Roswell on Netflix in 2012, Martine wrote book two and three of the Gray Eyes Series, then went on to create the Gray Eyes Series universe in which she has been playing ever since. She writes contemporary coming-of-age romance fiction (young adult/new adult) with a twist.
Martine is an avid reader and rollerskater. She loves sushi, hot chocolate on a cold day, and the beach. But what she loves above all else is to curl on her chair with her computer and write more stories for her readers.
Martine currently lives in Houston TX with her two cats.