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Laura Anne Bird
Author
Crossing the Pressure Line

Middle Grade; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Crossing the Pressure Line is a contemporary middle grade novel that presents a plucky, deeply reflective heroine who grieves the untimely loss of her grandfather, puts her self-confidence to the test, and learns how to listen to the courageous voice inside.
Reviews
Bird’s engaging, heartfelt debut for middle-grade readers follows 13-year-old Clare Burch as she struggles to define herself and overcome her guilt and grief after the death of her beloved Grandpa Anthony. In his will, Anthony specified that he wanted his ashes scattered at wild, windswept Lake Alwyn in Wisconsin, but he also wanted Clare—along with her high-strung mother, Helen, and her spoiled, indoorsy Grandma Lulu—to live there in his rural cabin for two months. Everyone is upset about this for their own reasons: Helen will miss teaching summer art classes, Lulu will be in a different state from her hairdresser, and Clare won’t see her friends or compete in summer swim meets.

Despite their misgivings, the three generations of women make the trip north from Chicago. To help cope with her sadness, Clare sets three goals that she thinks would make her grandfather proud: she aims to make a new friend, swim to the island and back without a life jacket, and catch a musky with her fishing rod from Anthony. Watching Clare accomplish each of these tasks will be rewarding for young readers who are also trying to define themselves. As an added bonus, Clare’s mother and grandmother are funny, troubled, fleshed-out characters, which will encourage kids to take a compassionate look at the adults in their own lives

Clare is a warm, determined, and friendly character, in a way that is relatable and inspiring. Young teens will find her journey of self-discovery similar to what they and their friends are experiencing. “I’m changing into something that was there all along, I just didn’t know it,” she says. Ultimately this spirited book serves as a valuable reminder that the things we dread can be adventures in disguise, waiting to help us become better, truer versions of ourselves.

Takeaway: An engaging middle-grade read that follows a 13-year-old girl on a quest of self-discovery following the death of her grandfather.

Great for fans of: Marie Miranda Cruz’s Everlasting Nora, Amanda Rawson Hill’s The Three Rules of Everyday Magic.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B+

Kirkus Reviews

A young girl finds purpose in life after losing a loved one in Bird's debut middle-grade novel... Bird craftily balances the family's story with beautiful descriptions of Wisconsin landscapes while focusing on Clare's emotions and realizations as she learns to believe in herself and to accept the loss of a loved one. The characters are relatable and sometimes quite funny, and Clare's ruminations are thoughtful yet appropriate for a girl her age... An evocative story about recovering from grief for readers of any age.

Midwest Book Review

Laura Anne Bird gives middle grade readers a multifaceted story that examines a feisty young girl's upward momentum as she works through her grief and faces new tests and opportunities during a summer that changes everything... This realistic account of loss and adjustments stands head and shoulders above most middle grade stories of family grief. It recounts not just Clare's adaptations and challenges, but those of her family, as everyone makes different, new decisions for their futures.

The Prairies Book Review

Healing and self-realization come from unexpected places in Bird's outstanding debut middle grade novel... Bird paints a vivid and profound picture of Clare's loss and lingering grief after she loses her grandfather, and she's equally compelling at portraying Clare's journey thereafter that challenges her to find her inner strength and voice. Along the way, she celebrates the kindness of the tight-knit community of Wisconsin, with the richness of its small-town culture and resilient spirit. Both a poignant exploration of the tough reality of recovering from loss and an inspiring journey of self-discovery, the novel makes for a must read.

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