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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Crossings: Four Tiered Stories by Allie Cresswell is a literary fiction novel set in modern-day England in a diaspora that is both separated by and converged by way of a river, the dividing line between the haves and the have-nots within a common geographical area. The book is broken down into four distinct sections that are superimposed over the others, although initially, it is unknown how and when they will coincide. Across the Bridge, The Last Crossing, Through Troubled Waters, and Step of Faith all almost read independently of one another, but as Cresswell peels back the layers through Matt, Megan, Mrs. Fairlie, Jade, and all those who surround them, we are able to see how tightly even the threads that seem wholly unrelated weave together.
Allie Cresswell writes with a literary panache that is the well-understood hallmark of a seasoned, highly-esteemed author, which is why learning that Crossings is her debut novel was difficult for me to grasp. The prose is gorgeous and descriptive in ways I rarely come across in contemporary fiction. There is a subtle and measured, almost too stoical, pacing of words that do the job of immersing a reader in the same river the narrative revolves around. By taking this approach, Cresswell demands patience from her readers and I was willing to give it. This would not have been the case with another book—really, ANY other book, but the lull of splashing water and the promise of gratification through words that sing provided what I required to keep turning the pages. Cresswell delivers. I loved Jade and Matt. I liked Megan and Jasmine even though the latter felt like a betrayal to me, by me. I got along with Jennifer because I believe many of us can relate to her life while still spitting at her choices and outlook. Characters drive the stories and Cresswell is masterful in developing them. This won't be a book for everyone but if you have the time and inclination, I highly recommend settling in for a slow, satisfying burn.