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Desert Crossing Hardcover – May 2, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–From the dramatic opening scene, in which three teens driving across the New Mexico desert in a blinding rainstorm hit something on the highway and go back to investigate, to the satisfying conclusion, when they resume their overdue spring break, this book is a gripping page-turner. Fourteen-year-old Lucy Martinez, her 18-year-old brother Jamie, and Jamie's friend Kit are on the way from their Kansas home to spend their vacation with the siblings' father in Phoenix when the accident occurs. Expecting to see a dead animal on the road, they are horrified to find a dead girl close to their own age. The nearest resident is Beth, a middle-aged, somewhat reclusive artist who summons the local sheriff and allows Lucy and Kit to stay at her house while Jamie, the driver, is taken into custody. As the investigation progresses, they learn that the girl was clearly dead before being placed on the road. Although the teens are now free to go, Lucy is determined to stay and try to discover more about the victim. She insists that Kit accompany her on a wild and eventually dangerous journey in pursuit of clues leading to a local man whom she becomes convinced is the killer. Although at this point the plot becomes somewhat improbable and filled with convenient coincidences, readers are so caught up in the story that suspension of disbelief is easy to achieve. Subplots involve a mild romance between Lucy and Kit and a more intense and far-more-troubling one between Jamie and Beth. A great choice for booktalking to middle and high school students.–Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. While driving through a desert rainstorm, 14-year-old Lucy, her older brother, Jamie, and his friend Kit hit something in the road. In the blinding rain, they find a dead girl on the highway. Beth, a prickly sculptor in her thirties, calls for help from her nearby home and agrees to shelter the teens until the investigation concludes. The teens learn they didn't kill the girl, but Lucy feels a responsibility to uncover the anonymous victim's name and story. The ensuing mystery is suspenseful, but it isn't as developed as the jittery relationships between the characters. Beth and Jamie flirt and sleep together; then Kit kisses Lucy. Lucy's narration sometimes alternates shakily between the voice of a teen and that of an adult looking back. Still, Broach explores with acute psychological insight the connections between pivotal events and the meaning found in the smallest human exchanges. Like Garret Freymann-Weyr's Stay with Me (2006), this provocative, often beautiful novel, from the author of Shakespeare's Secret (2005), examines identity, responsibility, intimacy, and the charged, blurry divide between teenagers and adults. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 520L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805077626
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805077629
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Claire C on October 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"There are some kinds of trouble you never see coming," is the opening line that instantly drew me into the pages of this gripping mystery. Through the voice of 14-year-old Lucy Martinez, I was quickly pulled into the unpredictable twists and turns of this fast paced plot. Broach cleverly chooses the stunningly raw beauty of the New Mexico desert as a backdrop to highlight the development of her characters as they discover the body of a dead girl along the road and the page turning journey that follows. And without being heavy handed, this dramatic road trip invites a thoughtful exploration of the equally dramatic journey from adolescence to adulthood that would make great fodder for teen discussion. But it is Broach's fluid writing style, zooming in and out like the lens of a camera, capturing with blind-siding surprise each new twist and turn, that ultimately creates such a believable and hugely entertaining story. You won't want to put this one down!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on January 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
DESERT CROSSING is a teenage road trip gone wrong.

Lucy Martinez is headed cross country to her father's for spring break. She is in the backseat, her brother is driving, and his best friend is hogging "shotgun". They are driving through the desert of New Mexico on their way to Phoenix. It's dark and rainy, the guys have been drinking, and they hit something in the road. Lucy convinces her brother to turn around and check it out. When they retrace their path, they discover a dead girl.

Oh man, now what? The three teens are in shock. The nearest house is owned by an artist named Beth. She helps them out by dialing 911 and taking them in out of the rain. The police arrive and begin the investigation. Due to the presence of beer fumes in the car, Lucy's brother Jamie is hauled to jail for the night. Beth agrees to let Lucy and Kit stay the night at her house.

The teens are soon cleared of any wrong-doing when it's discovered that the girl died of a heart attack and was probably already dead when her body was left at the side of the road. Jamie is released from jail, and the three remain at the artist's house until the investigation is wrapped up. Meanwhile, Lucy can't sleep and believes she must help catch the person who left this girl on the side of the road.

DESERT CROSSING grabs the reader right from the start. Lucy's first-person narrative is real and honest. Many things complicate the teens' situation. Jamie is attracted to Beth the artist, Kit and Lucy begin a questionable relationship, and there are tense phone calls to update Lucy's parents. All are surrounded by questions about the dead girl, but Elise Broach keeps things flowing so smoothly, the pages seem to fly by.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on April 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I checked this book out after meeting the author. I found her very interesting and couldn't wait to read her work. I am not a fan of mysteries and probably would not have picked this book up at all based on that and the fact that the cover does not appeal to me. (I know, don't judge a book by its cover and all, but, well...) Let me just start the review by saying that I could not put this book down. I read 3/4 of it in 2 hours and finally had to go to bed because it was midnight. I finished it the next morning.

The story is told from 14 year old Lucy's perspective. She is going from Kansas to Arizona with her brother and his best friend. Within the first few pages the action starts. Kit, the best friend, pulls out a six pack of beer and hands one to Lucy's brother, Jamie, who is driving. A terrible rain storm has kicked up and they cannot see anything but water. No sooner had they had a few sips of beer they hit something with the car. Worried that it is a dog and may still be alive, Lucy makes Jamie turn around and go back. What they find on the side of the road is not a dog. It's a girl. Jamie is taken to the police station while Kit and Lucy are taken in for the night by a local woman named Beth.

I almost hate to tell you anything else. There are a lot of twists and turns, but all very likely and well put together. I really do not enjoy crazy mysteries where everything is unexpected and unlikely. Broach does a fantastic job of weaving in a lot of unexpected events while keeping the story real. Her characters are wonderful. I find as an adult I do not relate many YA characters. In this case I relate to them, but not as an adult. I can actually see my 14 year old self in Lucy. She also does a wonderful job of walking the line between teen sexuality and censoring her charcters.
I hope Broach has another YA book coming out soon.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. Earls on January 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I found part of the plot and some of the language offensive. The portion devoted to the mystery was excellent, but the part where an 18 year old boy and a 30-something woman he had just met enjoyed a romantic fling was a bit much.
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