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Young Adult Indie 272
heartfelt YA contemporary
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CROSSING THE LINE is a heartfelt YA contemporary about the curveballs life throws at you and finding a new path forward. After curfew one winter night, Preach sees someone in the middle of the road and though he tries to avoid them, the black ice spins his car out. Grace found a dog in the middle of the road and had gotten out of her car to save it when she saw Preach incoming. She blocked with her hand, but her wrist was crushed. Preach walks away with a concussion - but this has serious implications given that it is his third.

Hockey means everything to Preach, and now the doctors are saying he cannot play it anymore. Given it was also his ticket into college with a scholarship, his plans are thrown for more of a loop when his parents tell him that any money they had saved for his college was given to pay off his mother's gambling debt. Grace is passionate about joining the air force right after high school, and her crushed wrist means that may not be possible. Right now, she is able to delay it, which she is not happy about, while she tries to work on healing.

Since both were driving after curfew, they also find themselves with community service, served together. In a small town where avoiding each other is already impossible, they are practically living their lives on top of each other, alongside the person who had a role in destroying their dreams and plans.

What I loved: This was a slow build that really walks though the grieving process, as both Grace and Preach are dealing with their carefully laid plans being dismantled. As they spend so much time together, they have key conversations that help in this messy emotional healing process. The relationship between them builds equally slowly as they work through their own issues alongside each other, with that tension of rivals underlying their interactions. Life changes - and dreams must adjust - as each of them learns along the way.

These themes around grief and change are really powerful and will resonate with readers who likely have experience with dealing with these, even if on a smaller scale. The small town elements mean that others can also contribute, positively or negatively, to their outcomes. The power of athletics, teamwork, and friendship is a strong theme of this series, and fans of the first book will be happy to see their favorites from that make appearances here.

What left me wanting more: As a small thing, the book really draws some things out, and it felt like the reader goes down the rabbit hole with each of them a few times. The ending felt like it could have been a lot sooner, but there is space for each of them to handle the curveballs they have been thrown.

As an aside, Preach does get his name in part from being religious (Christian). While it occasionally mentions church, religion does not play much of a role in the story, except to occasionally explain some of his decisions (particularly with regards to waiting for marriage). This is just a heads up for people sensitive about such inclusions.

Final verdict: Overall, CROSSING THE LINE is a heartfelt YA contemporary about healing and grief. Readers do not need to have read the first book to enjoy this one.
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