Sarah Crossan: YA verse novels
Sarah Crossan was Ireland’s Children’s Literature Laureate from 2018 to 2020.
Her verse novels for young adults (YA) have captured young readers and critics alike. In a remarkable blend of the lyrical and the tragic, Crossan empathetically confronts her reader with uncomfortable realities of modern life from which we must not “Look Away.”
She is, indeed, an alluring story-teller who draws you through her verse narrative as compellingly as the bards of yore.
In “Toffee” she interweaves two stories of confusion and neglect. When Allison runs away from her unsafe home, she hides in the shed of an abandoned house…which, of course, is not abandoned, although in many ways its elderly owner has been just that. Abandoned.
In “Toffee” various opportunities to investigate Allison’s marks of abuse are overlooked. In truth, she is being harmed by her bully of a father, yet made to believe by him that she herself is the one at fault.
For Marla, the lonely resident of her empty shell of a home, the neglect is familial and societal. Her confusion is a mirror to “Toffee’s” distorted view of herself; one in which even her name ”Allison” gets lost.
In “Toffee” Crossan’s plotting is, as ever, pitch perfect and her tone rhythmically crafted as she carries her reader fluidly through a narrative of pain, hope and the better future to come.
In 2016, Sarah Crossan won The Carnegie Medal for “ONE”.
This was the first time a free verse novel has taken the prize. I can only recommend you try one of her novels for yourself (Should you wish to do so) and see how the verse frees you to enjoy this enchanting author’s tales.
West Sussex Libraries have a good range of Crossan in stock.
My thanks to them their support.
Morag Charlwood, Book Review Editor, Shoreham Wordfest Autumn 2020