Reviews for Crossing Stones

Booklist Reviews 2009 October #1
"*Starred Review* Two pairs of siblings, Muriel and Ollie Jorgensen and Emma and Frank Norman, have grown up together on adjacent Michigan farms. Hints of romance stir among the group just as World War I breaks out, but independent Muriel refuses Frank's kiss before he leaves for the front. Ollie follows Frank to war, and in letters blackened with censors' ink, he details the battlefield horrors and his sorrow at the news that Frank has been killed. At home, Muriel finds inspiration in her suffragist aunt's protests in Washington D.C., while the more traditional Emma observes, "Making sure everyone is fed / and clothed and cared for--that also takes a kind of pluck." Frost, whose titles include the Printz Honor Book Keesha's House (2003), once again offers a layered, moving verse novel. Each selection, alternately narrated by Muriel, Ollie, and Emma, is shaped to reflect the characters' personalities and relationships: Muriel's free-flowing entries indicate her restless curiosity; Emma and Ollie's sonnets follow complementary rhyming patterns, adding a structural link between the characters as they fall in love. The historical details (further discussed in an author's note) and feminist messages are purposeful, but Frost skillfully pulls her characters back from stereotype with their poignant, private, individual voices and nuanced questions, which will hit home with contemporary teens, about how to recover from loss and build a joyful, rewarding future in an unsettled world." Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
In 1917, neighboring families face a sea of troubles. Two sons enlist in WWI; a suffragist aunt goes on a hunger strike; a seven-year-old daughter nearly dies from influenza. Frost reveals her story through tightly constructed poems. The discipline of the form mitigates against sentimentality, and the distinct voices of the characters lend immediacy and crispness to the tale. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #6
In the course of less than a year in 1917, two neighboring farming families in Michigan face a sea of troubles. Two sons enlist as the United States enters the First World War; one is killed, and the other is wounded, losing an arm. A beloved aunt, on a women's suffrage protest in Washington, is imprisoned and goes on a hunger strike. A seven-year-old daughter nearly dies from the flu. Historically plausible, this cluster of catastrophes could potentially be too much for a single narrative, but Frost contains and reveals her story in a set of tightly constructed poems. Eighteen-year-old Muriel, who is our primary source of information, speaks in an engaging and convincing free-verse stream-of-consciousness style. The other two young adult narrators speak in "cupped-hand sonnets," a form with a highly stylized rhyme scheme. The discipline of these forms (elaborated upon in an author's note) mitigates against sentimentality, and the distinct voices of the characters lend immediacy and crispness to a story of young people forced to grow up too fast. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 September #2
This gorgeous collection of "cupped-hand" sonnets tells the story of two families whose lives are forever changed by World War I. Perhaps the most poignant poems, flowing like rushing water across the pages, are those from 18-year-old Muriel's point of view. Outspoken Muriel questions the war and finds herself drawn more and more to her Aunt Vera's suffragist cause. Other poems, shaped like river stones, are written from Muriel's brother Ollie's and her friend Emma's perspectives. Ollie's poems chronicle his brief experience in the war before an injury brings him home, and Emma's point up the great loss her family has felt since her brother, Frank, was killed in the war. Both Emma's and Ollie's poems also reveal the tender feelings of first love blossoming between them. With care and precision, Frost deftly turns plainspoken conversations and the internal monologues of her characters into stunning poems that combine to present three unique and thoughtful perspectives on war, family, love and loss. Heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful, this is one to savor. (notes on form) (Historical fiction/poetry. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 October

Gr 6-10--The children of the Norman and Jorgensen families have grown up together, with their family farms located on either side of Crabapple Creek. In 1917, the outbreak of World War I shatters their idyllic lives: strong-willed Muriel opposes it, but the two young men, Frank and her brother, Ollie, enlist and are soon sent overseas. Muriel's lively personality comes alive in free-verse poems that roam across the page like the free-flowing waters of the creek. "My mind sets off at a gallop/down that twisty road, flashes by 'Young Lady,'/hears the accusation in it--as if it's/a crime just being young, and 'lady'/is what anyone can see I'll never be/…." The poems of Ollie and friend Emma are written in "cupped-hand" sonnets; their rounded shapes resemble the crossing stones of the creek and record their growing love. While the young men find themselves amidst the horrors of trench warfare, their families attempt to cope with their absence. Muriel travels to Washington, DC, to be with her aunt Vera, a suffragist who is recovering from a hunger strike; joins picketers at the White House; and helps out in a settlement house. Back home, youngest sister Grace comes down with influenza. Frost's warmly sentimental novel covers a lot of political, social, and geographical ground, and some of the supporting characters are not fully fleshed out. But this is Muriel's story, and her determined personality and independence will resonate with readers, especially those who've enjoyed the works of Karen Hesse.--Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

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VOYA Reviews 2009 October
Beautifully written in formally structured verse, Frost's story spans nine months from 1917 to 1918. Each of three characters' poems, with their own distinct rhyming schemes and visual shapes, tell about their lives growing up in two families living on either side of a creek in rural Michigan. Muriel has just graduated from high school and dreams of something more. Her slightly older friend and neighbor, Frank, has finished basic training and is sent to Europe to fight in World War I; her younger brother Ollie lies about his age so he can enlist and join Frank; and her best friend Emma, Frank's sister, is content to some day become a wife. To help her suffragette aunt recover after being in jail, Muriel travels to Washington DC, and a whole new world is opened up to her, one in which she can make a difference. Although warned by family to be careful with voicing her opinions, Muriel learns that sometimes it takes protesting and education to help effect change. Frost deals with many issues, including the horrors and experiences associated with war: death, mutilation, separation, how the home front coped; gender roles and women's suffrage; the Spanish influenza outbreak; and discovering what to do with one's life. At the end in "Notes on the Form," Frost explains the formal structure of each person's verse, which is amazingly done. This beautifully written, gently told story can be used for classroom discussion in social studies and English, or simply for leisure reading. --Jane Van Wiemokly. 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.