Spent the morning running all kinds of errands including spending almost an hour mailing boxes at the FedEx/Kinkos Store (do not get me started on that story). Came home intending to fiddle with some projects and instead curled up with Helen Frost's CROSSING STONES (FSG, 2009). Just fell out of the book a few moments ago, stunned at the incredible feat she performs. This is a novel in verse about World War I. Eighteen year old Muriel, her brother Ollie, and her neighbor Emma take turns telling of how the war (and the suffrage movement) impact their lives. On the surface, this does not sound much like a book that can capture and hold onto the heart and mind of a reader. That is because a reader needs to have the book open in front of her in order to see firsthand the visual feast. Not just extended similes and metaphors, not just gut level emotions rendered in poetic form: there is more. What sets Frost up on a pedestal of her own (that is where I would put her and not where she would ever put herself) is the intricate STRUCTURE of the poems: shape, form, rhyme. Divided into 10 sections that each cover a month from April 1917 to January 1918, readers watch as Muriel grows into a more assured young woman, one determined to make her own way in a scary world. As her mother says, some women are not meant to rock the cradle. Muriel would do better to rock the boat.
As always, Frost provides readers with information about the form and structure of the poems in this unforgettable volume in an appendix. Her "Epilogue" is in and of itself a veritable masterpiece. It is the care Frost demonstrates, care at the syllable and word and phrase levels, that ultimately creates this feast for all readers. Bravo!