Friday, February 25, 2011

Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda

Protagonist: Xing Xu
Setting: Ashland, New York
Rating: 4.0
Xing Xu is a loner in his high school, Chinese-born and shy. His only friend is Naomi Lee, beautiful and more popular. When high school kids start disappearing, Xing first tries to investigate, then becomes a suspect. Usually invisible or bullied among the mostly-white school, Xing starts coming out of his shell when a teacher notices his singing voice. Later, he's tapped to star in a school play when the lead becomes one of the disappeared students. More than a murder mystery, this is also the story of an immigrant.

The writing is spare and haunting, and the narrator -- Xing -- tugs at your heartstrings. After fleeing from China, his family settles in upstate New York, but his father dies in an accident. This is how Xing describes his life: "I went to a school where students were well bred, immaculately groomed, suave, and hip; whose parents were CEOs and doctors and partners of law firms. Not Chinatown hawkers. Not Charlie Chan kow-tow specialists who spoke in choppy, sloppy Chinglish, who took in with grubby hands crumpled dollar bills, who were told to keep the change and invariably did."

Crossing is billed as a young adult/crossover-into-adult book. It does have an unresolved ending that might leave you unsatisfied -- although, in keeping with the book, it makes a strong statement. I'd recommend this for YA readers over 13.

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