Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book Review: Crossing Lines by Paul Volponi

SUMMARY: Adonis is a jock. He's on the football team and he's dating one of the prettiest girls in school. Alan is the new kid. He wears lipstick and joins the Fashion Club. Soon enough the football team is out to get him. Adonis is glad to go along with his teammates . . . until they come up with a dangerous plan to humiliate Alan. Now Adonis must decide whether he wants to be a guy who follows the herd or a man who does what's right.

From critically acclaimed author Paul Volponi comes this discussable and finely wrought story of bullies, victims, and the bystanders caught in between.


The Short Version:
Overall, Crossing Lines does a pretty good job of blending sexuality, bullying and coming of age. Though admittedly lacking in character depth, and an overall campy feeling to the characters, this one is harder to really get into but still an enjoyable enough read. With some great points made, a stable realism, Crossing Lines is a quick but useful read.

The Extended Version:
Adonis was, admittedly, a character that was hard to really relate to. He seemed too much of a stereotypical jock, going with the team in everything and having no real interests other than football and girls. When the team takes an obvious disgust to Alan, Adonis goes right along with it. His biggest drive, however, for siding with his team even while they make Alan miserable is that he wants the girl he's interested in to think he's great, and because he simply doesn't have the gall to stand on his own. While there is a realistic element to that, the motivations for this specific character didn't mesh quite well enough to pull it off. That being said, his inner struggle about letting Alan suffer, and what finally make him go against his team have a strong impact both on him and the reader.

The rest of the cast is, unfortunately, just as lackluster, overall, as Adonis. Fitting too neatly into stereotypes, with a strong campy feeling, no single character really stood out. With pretty much all the girls seeming to back Alan with no questions asked, and the guys having an outward dislike for him, the lines, so to speak, seemed too obviously drawn. With a father who had an obvious dislike towards Alan as well, and who seemed to back his son in it, it is understandable why Adonis struggled like he did and yet, his mother sided easily with the sister, who did all she could for Alan. While Alan did have a great and clear cut inner strength, his overall role seemed to simply be the catalyst to changing Adonis in a way that overshadowed who he actually is.

The plot itself, however, had an easy pace.  Straightforward in execution, working towards the bullying event that really tests Adonis, but with a too easy and quick fall out afterwards, this one is a fast read that gets its points across. Though hitting too hard into stereotypical football jock, the battle of self versus team and trying to find your own way is the driving element of this story.

The writing is smooth, having a simplicity to it. Though it's hard to say whether that simplicity is simply the writing or truly the mindset of Adonis, it still does a good job of bringing out the confusion in him. With a few rougher and more poignant scenes, and some great banter and dialogue, the writing serves its purpose without pulling the reader out of the story.

Overall, this one didn't have the potency to it that it could have, but still provided a good read with some great points. Lacking in characterization most of all, it was hard to really side with and get behind any specific character. While the ending felt too easy and rushed, the bigger points of the book had an easy flow and connection between them. Despite it's faults, Crossing Lines does a great job of battling inner turmoil and individualism against a group, particularly when faced with something uncomfortable.

Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review 
Reading level: Ages 12 and up 
Hardcover: 240 pages 
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: June 9, 2011

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