Saturday, April 26, 2014

Crash, by Lisa McMann

Young love, feuding families, pizza, and an ominous vision.  This is the recipe for acclaimed young adult author Lisa McMann’s Crash, the first novel in her Visions series, which is completed by Bang and Gasp.

Sixteen-year-old Jules is not your standard teenager. She has responsibilities that most of her peers wouldn't dream of taking on or even understanding: The responsibility to ensure a smoothly-running pizza parlor; the responsibility to function normally in a house full of her hoarder father's junk; the responsibility to stay away from Sawyer, her forbidden crush; and, of course, the responsibility to save up to nine lives. Going to the movies or mall with friends (if she even had any outside her brother and sister) is not in her realm of thinking.

Instead, her thoughts as of late are preoccupied with an unsettling impending event: a snow plow's crashing into a building, in its wake, leaving 9 body bags in the snow. And only she knows it's coming. 

Every billboard, every television screen, every window reveals the event to her, playing in front of her eyes like a movie. But she knows it's not a movie, and as she receives more clues about the accident site and the victims, she tirelessly plots to halt the disaster--even if it might halt her own life.

Throughout all of the chaos of Jules' teenage life, she must avoid her childhood crush like the plague--all because of a feud between her family, the Demarcos, and Sawyer's family, the Angottis--both of whom own a rival pizza place.  For this reason and more, Crash would be a wonderful novel for teachers to pair with Shakespeare's classic play Romeo and Juliet. (and connect to the most well-known family feuds in our country: 4 Bloody Family Feuds in American History)

Yes, the families of Crash are the modern-day Capulets and Montagues; the children are the ones who have the common sense to wriggle free of the idiotic, pointless feud and come together. Well, they try, anyway.   

McMann's novel touches on many issues that teenagers and their families of today experience, often behind closed doors. Jules' father suffers from depression, a struggle which seems to have flipped the entire household upside down over the past years. Her brother, Trey, is gay, and often finds his family (especially Jules) to be his safe haven, as he is unaccepted by his peers. And through much of the book, we see Jules and her siblings taking on adult roles--not only physically, but also emotionally. 

Crash is well-written from Jules' point of view. The teen language and phrasing that Jules uses will be relatable for adolescent readers across the country. In fact, Jules speech sounds exactly like that of some my own high school students.

One of the novel's prominent messages is to do what you know to be right, even if it may be a struggle; always give it your all.  This is sometimes a difficult lesson for students to learn and apply, and this novel will assist them in understanding the importance of motivation and effort.

Please click the following link which contains an article about a teenager who takes on an adult role: Teen Shoulders Adult Responsibilities

Please click the following link which contains an article about ways for students to handle parental depression: 6 Things Every Kid Should Know


Vanessa Chairez said...

Hi Sarah! Great plot summary. It seems like a great book and I like how you related it to Romero and Juliet. Like you mentioned it would be a great book to have students read when they learn about Romero and Juliet. This way it can help them be able to relate the story to their life.

I loved that you provided a great link for students to have when they have a parent who is depressed. Many teens won't know how to held that. I also liked the article that you provided about teens taking on the responsibilities of adults. Unfortunately this isn't uncommon especially in poor areas where parents are working two jobs and can't be home. The pressure is left on the oldest child to run the house.

Thanks for a great review!

Laura Elizabeth said...

I had not even gotten through the first paragraph when I stared thinking this would be great to pair with Romeo and Juliet. It would make for a really interesting Romance and Tragedy unit.
I love that one of you links was about how to deal with parents who have problems because I feel like that is something that a lot of students encounter, as well as, a huge link between the two texts.

Heather Nelson said...


Thanks for the insightful post! I am so glad to see that you're suggesting Romeo and Juliet with this text-- what a great way to blend Young Adult Literature with traditional British Literature! Also, I wanted to shout you out for tying in a non-fiction piece about a teenager who is helping her family despite challenging circumstances. I know this would be extremely relevant and inspiring to students while showing them that many of the themes readers reflect on are timeless and still applicable to their teenage lives today. Thanks for sharing,

Sarah Millen said...

Thank you all for your feedback. :)