A pretty girl on a horse in a field — a rather idyllic sort of image. But at the bottom of the image are the words: “Sometimes, the bad memories are all you’ve got.” An intriguing juxtaposition. And it is this combination of words and image that made me pick up Michelle Heeter’s debut novel, Riggs Crossing.
My copy of Riggs Crossing is a review copy that was sent to me. If those words had not been on the cover, I may well have given this book a miss. But that one little sentence grabbed my attention, made me pick up the book and turn it over to read the back cover blurb. After reading the blurb, I put the book onto my must-read-soon pile and contacted the author about doing a guest post for this blog.
Michelle did not write a promotional guest post, as I would have expected. No! She wrote an extremely entertaining, humorous post called “How to irritate a writer”. Check it out… you won’t be sorry. After reading this post, I moved her book to the top of my pile.
Riggs Crossing is a YA novel about a teenage girl, pulled from the wreckage of a crashed car. She is injured, both physically and psychologically. After the physical injuries have healed, she is placed in a children’s shelter. Unable or unwilling to remember much, including her own name, she is dubbed ‘Len’. Riggs Crossing is about Len slowly regaining the memories of her life. And, more importantly, it is about her learning to live the rest of her life.
This is a compelling, intriguing and hard to put down novel. It is an insight into one trouble teenager’s mind. There’s not all that much plot, but the novel captivates with its sense of character. The style is personal and immediate. There is almost an element of voyeurism to it, as you are privy to Len’s innermost thoughts. The revelations of her past are slow at first, building pace as the novel escalates to its climax.
Len is an interesting character. She is not always likeable and some of her attitudes towards the people around her are downright abhorrent — her racism, for example, or the way she views the overweight ten-year-old girl who also lives in the children’s shelter. But she also has her good points — her curiosity and the way she interacts with her teacher. And then, of course, there is her past — hanging over her like a slowly descending blade. All this goes a long way to building a believable person, rather than a cardboard cut-out character.
The cover image is very much an idealised image — the person who Len wishes to be. But then, of course, there are those words that go with it, dragging you back to reality.
The other characters in the novel are all viewed through Len’s eyes — which, in itself, is an interesting way to show characters. They are not given as much time as Len, but they are still well developed, and it is particularly interesting to see how Len’s opinions of them slowly change over the course of the novel.
Riggs Crossing is an excellent read in and of its own right — but there is also bucket-loads of study potential in there. Highly recommended!
Catch ya later, George
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