for Crossing Stones
by Helen Frost
The tragedy of war, women’s lack of a political voice, and the oppression of censorship are all explored in an intricately crafted novel set when the United States is entering World War I and the fight for women’s suffrage is escalating. The story unfolds through three alternating voices: Outspoken Muriel is just finishing high school and finds it hard to silence her political opinions; Emma, Muriel’s best friend, is less radical in her thinking but feels the war’s impact more directly at first when her brother heads overseas to fight; Ollie, Muriel’s brother, is too young to enlist but eventually lies about his age to join the war effort. Letters from overseas arrive home blackened by the censor’s pen. Meanwhile, Muriel and Ollie’s Aunt Vera is picketing the White House to demand the vote for women. She is jailed and goes on a hunger strike, but the truth about these events, too, is veiled by government misinformation and censorship. Helen Frost covers a lot of territory with great depth in this exceptional work full of richly developed, complex characters. Each one is struggling with personal choices that are complicated by the times in which they live. The poems in Muriel’s voice have the appearance of a flowing river, while those in Emma’s and Ollie’s voices are the “crossing stones”: interconnected “cupped-hand” sonnets. Frost includes notes on the form she developed to tell this deeply rewarding story. (Age 13 and older)
CCBC Choices 2010. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2010. Used with permission.
Maybe you won't rock a cradle, Muriel.
Some women seem to prefer to rock the boat.
Eighteen-year-old Muriel Jorgensen lives on one side of Crabapple Creek. Her family's closest friends, the Normans, live on the other. For as long as Muriel can remember, the families' lives have been intertwined, connected by the crossing stones that span the water. But now that Frank Norman-who Muriel is just beginning to think might be more than a friend-has enlisted to fight in World War I and her brother, Ollie, has lied about his age to join him, the future is uncertain. As Muriel tends to things at home with the help of Frank's sister, Emma, she becomes more and more fascinated by the women's suffrage movement, but she is surrounded by people who advise her to keep her opinions to herself. How can she find a way to care for those she loves while still remaining true to who she is?
Written in beautifully structured verse, Crossing Stones captures nine months in the lives of two resilient families struggling to stay together and cross carefully, stone by stone, into a changing world.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.