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The Crossed

By

Loved it! 😍

T.J. Rao grips readers with characters, humor, and romance that every YA fan would fall in love with.

We’re all familiar with the Loving v. Virginia case. But in case you’re not, some fifty-three years ago, it was illegal for people of different racial identities to marry. In Virginia, it wasn’t until 1967 that people could love and marry who they wanted regardless of race. When we look at those numbers, it wasn’t very long ago that we had to be segregated -- even in love. And looking at the current climate of America today, I’d say a dystopian world in which “separate but equal” popular belief isn’t as far-fetched as we’d like to believe…


Author TJ Rao explores this dystopian idea in her novel The Crossed in which two star-crossed lovers are battling against race-politics and a society that tells them they’re better sticking with their own kind. Pravi-boy Hart Kang finds himself fascinated by the Teorrain in which Crossed people live, but what starts as an ignorant walk into unwelcoming territory turns into a lesson Hart will never forget -- and the love of his life, Crossed-girl Violetta Akan. Coming from a mixed familial background herself, readers can hear Rao’s voice as well as the characters’ as they turn each page. Our protagonists make our hearts burn for their romance and excited for the action when we learn that it’s not only their love at stake --it’s their lives. 


Although a heavy thematic plot device, Rao grips young readers with characters, humor, and romance that every YA fan would fall in love with. Her plot never slows and her protagonists are ever-growing, making readers invested -- even in the minor ones. While sipping my tea and flipping each page, I found myself wanting all of the drama, all of the tension, and all of the history. As readers unpack the mystery behind the government and the rebel group, the Vermillion, readers will find themselves wondering who are the bad guys. With opposing forces on both sides of the fight, readers will raise an eyebrow at everyone’s intention, motive, and decision. Characters once trusted become questionable and a plot readers thought they could predict gets twisted.


Race and politics are notions people are usually discouraged from talking about -- they’re too sensitive to even touch. But that’s what I enjoyed about reading Rao’s novel. She takes something relevant to our society, something so heavy and untouchable, and makes it digestible. Her writing draws in readers, filling heads with vivid paintings of an entirely new America that somehow feels real. She makes readers want to return to her pages just because there is no way to not want to know what happens to the young lovers Hart and Violetta. And readers will definitely want to read to the end just to make sure our favorite characters make it out alive -- and if the nation is headed in the direction of change.

Reviewed by

An eager reader and passionate writer.
MA in Multicultural Literature.
A fondness for YA fiction; historical fiction; cross-genre; graphic novels/manga.
Some of my favorite books were written by Adichie, Adeyemi, Murakami, Lee Min Jin, and Coelho.

Smile, Hart. You're on Camera.

About the author

I'm an advocate for people of mixed race like myself. My goal as a writer is to create fiction that is inclusive and discusses important topics in today's society. In my spare time I adore watching Bollywood movies, and hanging with my dog, Mr. Bingley. view profile

Published on July 15, 2020

Published by TLSI Publishing LLC

90000 words

Genre: Young Adult

Reviewed by