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Crossing the Line

"An immersive and powerful verse novel about terrifying county lines child exploitation"

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LoveReading4Kids Says

LoveReading4Kids Says

April 2023 Debut of the Month

A stunning debut that makes full and highly skilled use of the narrative verse format, with imaginative use of font and layout, to tell an important story that the author acknowledges is based upon the real experiences of a friend’s son.

It highlights how easy it is for young people and children to be entrapped by ruthless drug gangs. But this portrayal of Erik goes far beyond a single issue, it is a thoroughly nuanced, credible portrait of a young man and the complexities of his life. It had been difficult due to bullying and rapidly worsens with the death of his father and then his mother’s terrible choice of new partner, who abandons her and their new twin daughters, leaving Erik as her only support.

Poverty and sleeplessness take their inevitable toll and behaviour and grades fall. Erik slowly finds himself abandoning his loyal friend Ravi and hanging out more and more with his former tormentors Travis and Ben and their dubious friends. Skipping school turns into shoplifting which turns into drug running.

At first, it’s easy money and almost a new kind of family. But the casual drop-offs soon escalate, as do the lies and deception. When Erik tries to escape the dark world he’s fallen into, his baby sisters come under threat. But a powerfully realistic ending offers a credible way out of the dangerous situation Erik and his family are facing and directs readers to sources of help for those facing similar issues.

Erik remains a likeable, self-aware, almost brutally honest protagonist throughout. He should not be defined by his bad choices but neither does he excuse his behaviour. In his portrayal the author shows that those involved in county lines activity should rightly be treated and perceived as victims rather than perpetrators - a stance campaigned for by the Children’s Society (who checked the manuscript for authenticity) This is an outstanding and important novel that should be widely read by parents and teachers as well as by the young people who will find it gripping, relatable, authentic and unputdownable.

Watch The LoveReading LitFest In Conversation With Tia Fisher, Author of Crossing The Line

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A genuine portrait of life’s challenges and struggles, real and heartwarming in a way that’s refreshing

Rarely, there’s a book which is both approachable and enjoyable while also rushing headlong into the challenges faced by young people today- somehow, Fisher has managed to do just that, and has triumphed. Written in free verse poetry, Crossing the Line is more than just a warning about the danger presented by county lines: it's also a protest against the lack of support for those who become victims to them, and about the courage of Erik, as he crosses the line one last time to save those he cares about.

When I first read Crossing the Line, it’s simple to say that I couldn’t put it down.... Read Full Review

Betty Furmston