Crossing Red Lights
by Sadaf Ayaz
Virgo eBooks Publishing

"I heard rain. I felt rain. I pulled away and I finally was able to use my hands. I ran them halfway through my hair then pulled as I screamed."

When making a sword a skilled craftsman must choose not only how much heat and stress to place on the metal but also the right moment and water temperature to quench it. His decision determines whether or not the sword becomes hard and brittle or a weapon that will be strong and lethal in battle. Severe trauma often works the same way in a person's life. It can either destroy or strengthen. When Emma, the young protagonist in Ayaz's debut novel, is first introduced to the reader, she is still weak and malleable. Yet after she and her family are attacked and her parents are kidnapped, she develops a toughness and determination that compel her to overcome any barrier to recover her loved ones.

While the mystery of the kidnapping and Emma's efforts to rescue her parents after recovering from short-term amnesia propel the plot forward, the romantic subplot is perhaps the best element within the book. Employing a standard love triangle to help her develop three of her principle characters, the author successfully creates a realistic female lead in Emma who struggles to understand her true feelings about her handsome yet occasionally abusive boyfriend, Jake, and her long-time best friend, Adam. At first, Jake is portrayed as your typical scumbag, but as the novel progresses, the reasons for his behavior emerge. In contrast, Adam seems almost too perfect to be true, but he too becomes more fleshed out over time while still remaining completely likeable. Although highly predictable, the scene where Emma and Adam finally confess their love for each other is still quite cute.

Ayaz may be only fifteen, but she shows great promise in this first work. It will be exciting to see what type of literary career she will craft for herself in the future.

Return to USR Home