Book Review: The Crossing by Gary Paulsen

Title: The Crossing

Author: Gary Paulsen

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Number of Pages: 114

Rating: C+

Recommended?: No


The Crossing is about a fourteen-year-old Latino boy named Manny who lives in abject poverty near the line between Juarez and the U.S. He dreams of someday escaping to the U.S., but his plans never seem to work out, leaving him at the mercy of predators and street gangs. When Manny meets an alcoholic veteran with PTSD, he hopes to get money off of the man but what starts as a matter of necessity turns into a tentative friendship of sorts between the man and the boy.

This book was okay but it wasn’t up to par with the other books I’ve read by Gary Paulsen (Paintings From the Cave and Notes from the Dog.) The characters were very one-dimensional and the writing style had a habit of telling, not showing. I didn’t feel like the setting was fully realized enough for me to picture it. There was hardly any dialogue and I felt like the author was explaining everything to me.

Manny’s circumstances were harrowing and I thought Paulsen did a good job of holding a mirror up to the privilege most people in first-world countries take for granted. He also did a decent job of creating an atmosphere of unease as Manny searches for a way to simply survive in the world. It wasn’t a bad book, just okay. I didn’t find myself particularly engrossed in it and might not have finished it if it hadn’t been so short.


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