What I love about this novel is the voice – throughout the narrative Amanda Huggins captures the slow American drawl perfectly and the dialogue feels authentically American which shows a real skill. As in all her other poetry and fiction the language is spare but beautifully nuanced.
Crossing the Lines began as a successful short story about a young girl coping with the unwanted attentions of her mother’s new boyfriend. As a longer work, Molly’s gripping story is still central, but now we see characters we only glimpsed before, and the result is a rich collage of voices and points of view. Amanda Huggins has created rounded, interesting characters and brings them to life with a few well-chosen phrases. Molly herself is a sympathetic, strong girl and it’s still her story we really care about – we’re rooting for her; right up to the end we don’t know if she will escape from her potential abuser and find her way back home to her brother. But we also see how other women and girls suffer from the skewed power of men and the various ways they try to escape from their situations. This compassion is even extended to Molly’s deeply manipulative step-father: Sherman Rook is allowed his moment of empathy: ‘He can hear a low keening, primeval and unstoppable, doesn’t register the sound as being of his own making until he feels the wet quilt beneath his cheeks.’
This moving and enjoyable novel considers the lines between states that Molly has to cross in order to make her way back to safety, but the lines are also the boundaries in relationships that should never be crossed.