High school student Malakai Thomas, star wide receiver of the varsity team, collides with band member Lily Morgan on his way to football practice. As days go by, Malakai cannot get the petite clarinetist out of his head. Lily Morgan can feel everyone’s emotions. She loses her ability to shield herself against them the day Malakai runs into her. Now she must try to maintain her sanity in the emotional jungle that is high school, as well as deal with her growing feelings for Malakai. Can Malakai get over the social stigma and his own internal struggle to be with Lily? Is Lily’s secret too big to accept, even for him?
When I initially read the synopsis for this book, I really didn’t think it would be a read for me and then I met Martine Lewis, interviewed her for my blog, and thought maybe I should give Crossing the Barrier a shot. Holy wow! I am so glad I gave this book a chance. Talk about a surprise! FYI: The synopsis doesn’t do this book justice . . . .
At it its core, Crossing the Barrier is all about its characters and everything is driven by these well-developed and completely interesting people. It’s not easy to create a real person in a book but Martine Lewis has managed to do so and her characters carry every aspect of this read right on through from beginning to end. Here’s the roll call:
Lily: Lily Morgan isn’t like the other kids. Since birth, Lily has been able to channel other people’s emotions and if she doesn’t have her well-developed shields in place, she can be overwhelmed by the emotions and thoughts coming from those around her. When you’re in high school, those emotions and thoughts are often erratic and intense and until the minute Malakai Thomas slammed into her (literally!) she was able to hold the emotions at bay. Now, Lily is going to have to call on all her reserves and the help of her best friend to survive each day. To make her life far, far worse, Lily lives with the single most horrible human being on Earth, her stepmother, a woman who has never hidden her total and complete hatred of Lily.
Malakai Thomas: What a good kid! Like Lily, Malakai doesn’t have the best home life but he makes the best of what he has. When most kids would take advantage of their parent’s frequent absences, Malakai does not. He is responsible, kind, has a strong sense of right and wrong, and though he is exceedingly popular, he doesn’t give into the peer pressure that is near-constant. In fact, once Malakai meets Lily and really gets to know her, he goes totally against what his “friends” want and begins to date the band geek.
David: In so many ways and on so many levels do I love this kid! David is Lily’s best friend’s older brother and he is just a genuinely good guy. Like his sister, David knows about Lily and her abilities and is fiercely protective of her. In fact, if Malakai weren’t so into Lily, David would be next in line to date her and be proud to do so. At every turn, David is right there for his friends and family and won’t let anyone stand in his way when someone needs his help. David is a support system for those around him and never once does he complain about being so.
Beatrice: Not everyone in Crossing the Barrier is good and Beatrice is a shining example of awful. Halfway through this book, I contacted Martine Lewis and asked if she would kindly kill off Beatrice in some truly wretched, horrible, and awful way. Now that Lily’s dad is gone, Beatrice doesn’t bother hiding her hatred of Lily. In fact, Beatrice truly has no concern at all for Lily and that is abundantly clear in her every word and action. With each encounter, I hated Beatrice a little more and was disappointed to not know what happened to her at the end of the read. Yes, I was truly hoping for a truly spectacular end to this cow. Maybe next time around . . .
As all the above characters – and a host of others – interact with one another and tell their stories, the plot unfolds and evolves. While Lily’s lack of shields is the major plot line, there are other things going on as well including the sudden reappearance of Malakai’s mother, the devolution of Beatrice, and Lily and Malakai’s budding relationship. There is so much interaction and conversation that the plot really moves along at a swift pace and gives both the characters and reader very little down time.
The Bottom Line: Crossing the Barrier was a quite a pleasant surprise for me and with the exception of a few wonky things, this is a book that is well worth the time and effort. The wonky things for me included Malakai’s mother and what her real purpose is as it isn’t quite explained and the fate of a few of the characters such as Beatrice, Wes, and Zoe. To be sure, the wonky things are minor and are far outweighed by the good things. This is a solidly written read with fully-developed characters that all come together in such a smooth and effortless way. You really don’t notice this book is just shy of 400 pages once things get rolling and you become attached to the characters. In all, Crossing the Barrier is an excellent start to what should be a truly exciting series.
Martine Lewis is a forty something who was born and raised in the French speaking province of Quebec, Canada. She spent her childhood looking forward to her summer vacations at the farm, which were a nice escape from the suburbs where she lived. Her first written endeavor was a 200-page handwritten Duran Duran bandfiction which she wrote when she was eleven years old. Of all her written work, this is the only one she no longer has. All throughout high school, Martine wrote more bandfictions and some original work, then she went to write fanfictions in the Star Wars, Buffy and Harry Potter universes. Her fanficiton in the Potterverse are mostly centered on characters of her own creation and can be found on fanfiction.net. Following her viewing of Roswell on Netflix in 2012, Martine wrote book two and three of the Gray Eyes Series, then went on to create the Gray Eyes Series universe in which she has been playing ever since. She writes contemporary coming-of-age romance fiction (young adult/new adult) with a twist. Martine is an avid reader and rollerskater. She loves sushi, hot chocolate on a cold day, and the beach. But what she loves above all else is to curl on her chair with her computer and write more stories for her readers. Martine currently lives in Houston TX with her two cats.
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