Kendall Fletcher lives on a potato farm with her parents in the small town of Cryer's Cross, Montana. She loves theater and dance, and has even applied to Juilliard, but doesn't really expect to get accepted. She also really enjoys soccer, and is on the soccer team at school along with her best friend and sort of boyfriend, Nico. Nico plans to become a nurse and doesn't care who teases him about it. This is good, because in a town as small as Cryer's Cross, everyone knows everyone else's business --- except for the secret Kendall keeps.
Kendall suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The only people who know are her parents, her psychiatrist and Nico; otherwise, she keeps her racing, overwhelming, controlling thoughts to herself as best she can. Routines are important to her. Checking locks on windows and doors, and arranging the school desks just right, are a couple of the ways she placates her brain. But when two classmates disappear, her rigid routines are disrupted with search parties, worry and grief.
After a while, Kendall attempts to move on with her life. She becomes friends with the new girl and her sullen, handsome brother with whom she eventually bonds over soccer. But she can't --- and won't --- let go of the missing teens. And when she starts hearing voices and finding messages scratched into the desk at school, she wonders if she's completely losing her grip on reality or if her classmates are reaching out to her for help.
Lisa McMann, the bestselling author of the Wake trilogy, brings us another exciting thriller with CRYER'S CROSS. As always, she grabs a hold of her readers in the first paragraph and propels them through the pages with trepidation, curiosity and foreboding. Scattered between chapters are short, cryptic messages from an unknown source, adding to the mystery and suspense. In this story, McMann tackles the complications of OCD, and she does so with grace and empathy; one can't help but feel Kendall's frustrations as she attempts to deal with her difficult and confusing disorder. Kendall, of course, is the book's most fascinating character, though others add intrigue as well, including the dark and sullen new boy at school.
CRYER'S CROSS is an exciting page-turner of a thriller that fans will not want to see end, leaving them impatiently waiting for McMann's next book.
Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on February 8, 2011