3 out of 5 Stars
*I was provided a copy of Crossing the Barrier by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*
Lily Morgan and Malakai Thomas couldn’t be more different as high school students. Lily is a clarinetist in the band, and Malakai is the star wide receiver of the football team. Their worlds don’t fit together. Yet when Malakai bumps into Lily and puts her in the hospital with a head injury, the two can’t get each other out of their minds. Lily has the ability to feel everyone’s emotions around her, and her ability to shield out this talent is lost after her injury. The growing attraction between these coming of age students is tested by the collision of the differences between their social circles, and Lily and Malakai must learn to navigate these potholes and fight to stay together.
Crossing the Barrier is a well-written coming of age story with great lessons for young adult readers. It provides an intense look at social stigmas and diversity. I loved the addition of Malakai’s racial mixture, that it wasn’t one hundred percent apparent but it did play a role in the story. The characters were relatively well-developed, and the attraction was set at a decent pace.
The story moved a little too slowly for me and contained a lot of cliché tropes: neither character having the guts to admit their feelings, getting interrupted when trying to talk about feelings, deciding something for the other character. Perhaps a young adult will relate better to these issues, but as an adult who enjoys reading Young Adult novels, this one just didn’t hit home for me. Some plot points were too over the top to be believable, and although I can set aside certain beliefs for fiction, the extremities of this story made me lose interest at times.
The paranormal aspect was minimal within the story, which made its inclusion somewhat awkward. Lily was able to feel the emotions of those around her, giving her somewhat of a truth barometer. After her collision with Malakai, she lost the ability to shield herself from people’s emotions, resulting in her being overwrought with emotions when in public. But this wasn’t tied to the plot too deeply until the end of the story, mostly as a setup for the next book.
Overall, the book just missed having any type of wow factor for me. The writing was good and it was edited well, which is something that is sorely lacking in many novels these days so that was a plus. It just didn’t have enough holding it together for it to make a positive impression.