4 out of 4 stars
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The Crossing is an engaging novel that talks about love and patriotism. After finishing the book, I found out that it was a sequel to The Angel's Lamp. Still, it works as a standalone because the author makes a thorough description of the main past events. However, if you read the books in the correct order, you might get a better understanding of the characters.
Johnny is running from Ireland, where he is considered a traitor. He barely makes it to America after escaping death. The protagonist finds shelter in New York, in the famous Hell’s Kitchen. The action of the book takes place during Prohibition, when the bars are thriving and the immigrants are forced to choose dangerous jobs. Johnny gets into the middle of another fight, and this time it’s a whiskey war between the two factions that control the streets: the Angels and the Gophers, sponsored by the Italian mafia.
Our hero meets Esme, an Irish singer who also escaped her home country after being crippled by the Tans (a unit supported by the British Army responsible for many brutal attacks on the Irish people). The lass has a charming voice and a kind heart; she is the only hope for poor souls like Dillon. Esme teaches children with physical disabilities or other trauma to express themselves and find peace using music. Dillon is a boy that lost his legs due to cruel and unfortunate circumstances. His sad story will be the catalyst that will bring people together, allowing them to heal some deep wounds. In the end, Johnny is torn between his attraction for Esme, a strange yet mesmerizing woman, and his love for Nora, his former fiance whom he betrayed. Who will he choose?
The book is educative about life in Ireland in the middle of the Irish War of Independence and America during Prohibition. The author shared some sad lessons: bad persons will always find reasons to be cruel and hide behind a war. Also, the discrimination and the random hate against black people are hard to understand. However, the novel creates a powerful contrast by presenting the good deeds that people also do. Like Esme, who heals the bodies and the souls of the most unfortunate individuals. Her mission is “to show others how to cradle the gift of love.” The Crossing is a story about angry men seeking revenge and how they discovered instead that kindness can ease the pain.
Ashby Jones created some strong and inspirational characters, starting with the little Dillon, who is “made of music.” At the same time, Esme is not the woman everyone thinks she is because she hides a dark secret. I learned bad people can do good things, while kind persons can hide some ugly truths. In conclusion, we are just humans, with good and bad parts.
I had only some minor dislikes. First, the main characters are heavy drinkers. I understand that drinking is an Irish habit and they are struggling to forget some bad memories; nevertheless, that can be an emotional trigger for some readers. Also, I felt that Johnny’s memories were introduced in a forced way in the plot. However, I didn’t feel the need to lower the rating.
Therefore, The Crossing by Ashby Jones gets a rating of four out of four stars. It is an excellent book that talks about kindness and people coming together to help because “hatred is overwhelmed by humanity’s love for humanity.” You will feel the power of a pure “I love you!” spoken by a child.
Fans of the Irish culture will love this book. The Irishmen are intense, mystical, religious, and fond of strong drinks and music. Also, I recommend the book to people who love music and understand its unique power. Christianity and faith in God are mentioned a lot in the book, so be aware of this aspect. Finally, if you are looking for a good love story, you must add this book to your reading list.
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