A remarkably ambitious book, which expertly uses the form of a verse novel to tell an incredibly powerful story. Mann’s characters are complex and carefully crafted, allowing the reader to empathise with any of them despite – or due to – their complexities. Told from the perspective of two teenagers – one from Dover, one a refugee from Eritrea – the novel’s construction and the echoes between the protagonists’ stories is a deeply empathetic way of approaching this narrative, and to a young reader, lends a face, a voice and a heart to the global refugee crisis.
As well as individual focus on characters, the novel is expansive, capturing the essence of being a teenager, evoking a world in crisis, and helping to open up the conversation of what is important to young people in this world. In telling such a story in such a creative way, Mann highlights the importance of every story to be told, for every voice to be heard, in a way that truly brings poetry to life for children.
The Crossing has been shortlisted for the CLiPPA 2022.