I read my first Lisa McMann book almost a year ago (Cryer’s Cross) and was so disappointed with it that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to read the copies of Wake, Fade, and Gone that I already owned. I hadn’t heard of her newest book, Crash, until it arrived in my mailbox unexpectedly and put it with my other books with no immediate plans to read it. When I was looking for something fun and quick to read from my shelf of review copies (from publishers), I kept coming back to Crash and decided I would read it. As I suspected, Crash was a quick and easy read, and I actually found it to be more enjoyable than Cryer’s Cross.
Jules lives in a suburb of Chicago with her parents, who own a pizza parlor called Demarco’s Pizzeria. Since the first grade, Jules has been in love with Sawyer Angotti, the son of her parents’ rivals. Once secret friends, Jules and Sawyer no longer speak and she admires him from a distance. When Jules begins having visions of an explosion at his family’s restaurant, Angotti Trattoria, and sees Sawyer in a body bag, she finally gets the courage to approach him even though they haven’t spoken since the sixth grade. Jules knows she must sound crazy; how could Sawyer possibly believe she is seeing the things she claims she is? Nevertheless, Jules is determined to stop the visions –which get stronger the closer it gets to the time when she thinks the accident will occur–even if it means risking her own life.
If you’ve seen the ABC Family film Pizza My Heart, then you already know a good portion of the plot of Crash. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if McMann got her inspiration to write this book after seeing that movie. I’ve seen it myself two times now, and the second time was only a few weeks ago. Or if you haven’t seen it, you’ve probably read/seen Romeo and Juliet, which was probably the inspiration for Pizza My Heart. Basically, this is not exactly a new story (especially if you know those other two), but it’s freshened up a bit with some supernatural elements thrown in.
So Jules has these visions, and she has no idea where they came from or why she’s been chosen to have them. I found it particularly interesting that she would have them when looking at billboards, movie previews at the theater, while watching television, and even when looking out windows. As far as I know, I haven’t read another book where visions happen quite like Jules’. I definitely wanted to know more about them and where they came from, but unfortunately the reader only knows what Jules knows.
I liked Jules, even if at times she came across just a teensy bit Sawyer-obsessed and stalkerish. She’d do anything for this boy whom she doesn’t really know anymore–even defy her parents. Jules’ life revolves around her parents’ restaurant, and Sawyer’s life is pretty much the same. They have similar interests (pizza!) and similar lifestyles, but beyond their childhood affection for one another, I had a hard time getting behind Jules’ undying love for Sawyer. As for Sawyer, he seemed like a pretty nice guy, but since Crash is from Jules’ point of view, there isn’t much the reader gets to learn about Sawyer and who he is.
Aside from any supernatural aspects in the story, I was really interested in the history behind the Angottis and the Demarcos. The conflict between the two families goes even further back than Jules’ and Sawyer’s parents. I can’t shake the feeling that the visions Jules was having are somehow tied to whatever has been going on between their families for the last two generations, when their restaurants were established in the 1930s. I’m hoping this will be explored more in the next book.
I’m still conflicted over whether or not I feel there should even be a second book. At just 233 pages (in the ARC; the finished copy has 256 pages), I think McMann could easily include 100 or so more pages to work out the issues between the two families and still reach a satisfactory conclusion. As for the conclusion we did get, I’m pretty upset and I don’t think it was well done at all. Nothing about Jules’ visions get explained, and it seems the characters are all right back where they started. However, Crash did a pretty good job of keeping me entertained for a full afternoon and I do want to read the next book. Right now, actually!!