Crossing Charry Ridge

A Novel

Young Adult - Coming of Age
218 Pages
Reviewed on 08/02/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rich Follett for Readers' Favorite

Crossing Charry Ridge by Suzann Albright offers a wonderfully imaginative, profoundly touching, and often humorous crow’s-eye view of contemporary life in Southern Appalachia along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The story’s crow narrator, Jet, is found as a seemingly abandoned fledgling by one of the story’s four main characters, raised to young adulthood, and then banded and released. Jet’s subsequent ongoing fascination with the habits and activities of “Persons” provides the glue that binds together a collection of folklore-enriched tales with their roots in Southern Appalachian culture and their branches in the present day. The coming-of-age narrative is engaging, entertaining, educational, and impossible to put down once one has begun reading.

Suzann Albright renders her quartet of central characters—Virgil, Kevin, Ashley, and Katelynn—vividly and vibrantly, alternating between bold and refined strokes with the seasoned genius of a master storyteller. As they pass through adolescence into young adulthood, we are reminded of the poignant universality of the human condition and the aching fragility of innocence. Jet, too, undergoes many changes as he experiences the full diapason of human emotions with the decidedly non-human scientific detachment of an avian researcher, drawn to shiny things and glowing truths but forever removed from fully understanding the ways of those who provide them. In the fashion of all finely crafted tales, readers will finish Suzann Albright’s Crossing Charry Ridge, wishing that the characters and their stories could continue many generations into the future. Just as Suzann Albright has given us characters we can genuinely care about, she has issued, in Crossing Charry Ridge, a compelling wake-up call and an invitation to connect with and perpetuate the rich and time-honored Southern Appalachian culture that is sadly on the threshold of being lost forever.

Nino Lobiladze

A family of crows nested in a very old tree called Owenasa, or Home. One day, a red hawk attacked the nest while the parents were away. A chick fell out of the nest and started to cry, trying to call his Paw or Maw. But instead, a boy named Kevin found him and took him home. He wanted to observe the young crow, that he named Jet, for a school project. Kevin didn't know that Jet studied him and the human environment too. Jet overheard the story of Kevin's friend, Virgil, a victim of domestic violence. Jet later met two orphaned sisters, Ashley Belle and Katelyn. These talented girls felt a deep connection to nature at Charry Ridge and the animals that lived there. Crossing Charry Ridge by Suzann Albright is a wonderful coming-of-age novel for young adult fans of the fantasy genre and nature lovers of all ages.

Crossing Charry Ridge is narrated from Jet's unique point of view. In her incredible debut novel, Suzann Albright touches on many significant topics, like the protection of the environment, abusive behavior by a parent, or the death of a loved one. At the center of the story is Jet, a well-mannered and clever young crow. He didn't want to become a pet and refused to repeat human words. The author explores the meaning of freedom and love. Jet wanted his Maw to be proud of him, but she explained that her love was unconditional and free of either pride or shame toward him. This is a profound and almost philosophical book. I liked the characters very much and Ashley is one to remember. Unlike Kevin, she observes the animals from a distance with respect. Ashley can't eat meat due to a traumatic childhood experience, but she never imposes her views on others. The book highlights the value of forgiveness and understanding, ending on a high note and giving us food for thought. The cover illustration by the talented Pamela Murphy reflects an intense scene described in this fascinating tale.

Pikasho Deka

Crossing Charry Ridge is a young adult coming-of-age tale by Suzann Albright. The story opens from the perspective of a young crow that unexpectedly finds itself in the hands of a young person. Kevin Wendell Ramsey is a teenager who comes across a crow fledgling in the woods. Assuming it's an orphan, Kevin brings the crow home and names it Jet. Soon, Jet becomes an observer of the lives of the people Kevin is in contact with, including his friend Virgil, whose violent father is in jail. Added to the mix are the Morgan sisters, Ashley and Katelyn. Raised by their grandma, the sisters have developed a strong bond with the creatures living on Charry Ridge in the Appalachian Mountains. With an environmental disaster on the horizon, will humans be able to coexist with nature's fellow living beings?

With fantastical flavors, Suzann Albright spins a heartwarming yarn that showcases the rich heritage and diversity of the flora and fauna of the southern Appalachian Mountains in the United States. Crossing Charry Ridge is a coming-of-age story featuring several animals and trees as primary characters, focusing on their relationships with human teenagers, who are responsible for preserving and conserving the planet's precious environment and wildlife. Albright's characters display a range of layers, vulnerabilities, and strengths that keep you invested in their storylines and sympathize with their plight. They all have likable personalities, but Jet was especially a favorite of mine. The underlying elements of magical realism make the narrative even more intriguing. Overall, I loved the book and feel it's a must-read for young adult readers.