cover image Crossing


Gary Paulsen. Scholastic, $15.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05709-4

Paulsen's latest novel is as ugly as a bad dream. Unfortunately, it's not a dream, but a potent expression of the brutal realities of a bridge that joins the golden highways of ""el norte'' (the U.S.) and the mud streets of neighboring Mexico. Young Manny wants to cross the bridge to the land of dreams and opportunity. Sargeant Locke, in turn, crosses the border from Fort Bliss, Tex., for a night in Juarez. There he drinks himself into a ``brain dead'' state to keep the ghosts of departed friends from coming to visit. Somewhere between misery and ugliness these two meet; both of them, on the periphery of normal living, are joined in a fateful, violent act that provides one with life and hope, and the other the chance to give, without giving up. Paulsen overburdens young readers with the harsh facts of a grown-up's perspective. But any work by such a proficient writer, who invokes a powerful sense of the tragic in readers young and old, is welcomewelcome indeed. A Richard Jackson Book. Ages 11-13. (September)