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lingers, and many questions about the social critiques are still at play. And while saying less is always better than overwriting, here it feels like itching around the scab of politicized beauty and racial invisibility, when it could be ripped off with more space to develop these ideas. But Berger has crafted unique and compelling voices that carry the reader through this chaotic, apocalyptic world, using raw writing bursting with imagery. And there is beauty in how these women become mothers to one another, and their ties are so powerful that they are grateful in spite of the virus that will kill them. In this strange storyline where there should be no hope, there is warmth and home and love. Berger offers the structure of motherhood to make sense of this chaotic world. She provides hope. While Jason Mott’s The Crossing dances in the speculative fiction realm with a virus called “The Disease” that is killing older generations in their sleep, this narrative thread isn’t assimilated well within the main storyline and has been mostly relegated to vignettes in between chapters. The truth is, this story wants much more to be a war novel that explores the consumption of memory during an apocalyptic war than one about a virus ravaging the United States. The backdrop of this narrative is that The Disease has been going on for ten years and a global

war for five of these years. The young are being conscripted into and dying for an older generation’s war. Virginia, as narrator, unloads the context of the world in the first chapter in a tone that doesn’t gel with the rest of the novel. However, the bleak situation of humanity becomes increasingly clear as she narrates the action in subsequent chapters. Virginia and Tommy escape the draft by journeying to Cape Canaveral to witness the probe launch to Europa, Jupiter’s moon, something that their deceased father wrote about in his letters to them. Their foster father, Gannon, a police officer, hunts them throughout the narrative, creating another line of tension, but it is not clear what’s at stake for Gannon, resulting in his character feeling underdeveloped. The twins stick to the roads, evading law enforcement and rogue groups of embers, and the whole sense of the novel echoes Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Even though the setup of The Disease in combination with the ongoing war helps create a compelling apocalyptic situation, Virginia and Tommy’s story is so acutely focused on the war that the vignettes titled “Elsewhere,” which discover how the disease is invading increasingly younger generations, appear disconnected and forced despite the passages’ eloquent and lyrical writing. And like typical teenagers, Virginia and Tommy aren’t worried about

JASON MOTT earned his BFA in Fiction and his MFA in Poetry from UNC Wilmington. His debut novel, The Returned (MIRA, 2013), was a New York Times Bestseller and was adapted as a television series under the title Resurrection. He has also published another novel, The Wonder of All Things (MIRA, 2014), and two poetry collections, We Call This Thing Between Us Love (Main Street Rag, 2009) and “… hide behind me …” (Main Street Rag, 2011). He was nominated for a 2009 Pushcart Prize. Read an interview with Mott in the 2019 print issue of NCLR. He currently lives in southeastern North Carolina.



getting old, especially when the more imminent threat of war presses on their minds. It is for this reason, and the focus on memory and war, that this book is much more a war novel than a speculative one. Virginia and Tommy have opposite abilities with memory – Virginia can recall absolutely everything she has seen, read, or heard, while Tommy has difficulty retaining memories and can only recall outlines of things. He tries to hold onto the sound of Maggie’s singing (Maggie is an old opera singer who harbors the twins for an evening): “Tommy closed his hand into a fist and rubbed his thumb against his forefinger, concentrating, concentrating so hard it hurt. But still Maggie’s voice slipped away and

ABOVE Jason Mott on UNC-TV’s North

Carolina Bookwatch, 24 Jan., 2014

Profile for East Carolina University

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.

North Carolina Literary Review Online 2019  

A literary review published online annually by East Carolina University and by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association.