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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.