Reviews /

Crossing the Line

Authored by Tia Fisher
Published by Hot Key Books

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

‘This is the story of Erik… he’s very good at making bad decisions.’

Crossing the Line is a verse novel for teens, a story about safety and security in times of family crisis. Vivid verse tells the story of teenager Erik, drawn into the world of county lines as he starts to run drugs for a local gang. Erik is drawn into this dangerous world by chance, due to the breakdown of his family unit and other pressures, very quickly finding himself trapped in this dark and dangerous world. Will he continue down this path of self-destruction? Can he find a way to out – back to himself and his family?

The novel is broken into titled sections, each containing a series of connected poems. The free verse style of writing offers a comfortable pace and drives the intense action of the story forward. The visual design and layout of text builds anticipation and adds another layer of understanding to the words on the page where illustrations are absent. As Erik’s life spirals more and more out of control, the erratic assemblage of words on the page appears to reflect his increasingly dire situation.

Erik’s friend, Ravi, offers a grounding a force throughout the story – a stark contrast to his own reality.  The description of Ravi’s supportive family dynamic appears to heighten Erik’s downward spiral and disconnection with his own mother as the novel progresses. There is a sense that Erik often feels a sense of both admiration and jealousy for his friend. What role will Ravi play? Can Erik be saved and does he want to be?

The distressing YA realism of Crossing the Line does not venture into overly graphic or violent scenes; however, it retains its intensity. There are scattered uses of profanity throughout the novel, but this seems appropriate as the situations Erik find himself in intensify. Tia Fisher’s debut novel is pure brilliance and it is unsurprising that this book is currently listed in so many award categories. Fisher’s work with national charities who support children and teens who are caught up in county lines gang activity bring an authenticity to the novel. This is one not to miss.

Longlisted for 2024 UKLA Book Awards

Shortlisted for 2023 Southern Schools Book Award

Longlisted for the 2023 Warwickshire Teen Book Awards

Shortlisted for 2023 Bristol Teen Book Awards

Shortlisted for YLG South East Yoto Carnegie Medal for Writing 2023