Title: Crossing Stones
Author: Helen Frost
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Concepts: economics of conflict, jobs, household production, economics of gender
Review: Muriel had a strong opinion about many issues and did not hesitate to speak her mind, even though social norms at the time still discouraged women from publically expressing their views. She despaired at the thought of her dear friend Frank and thousands of other young American men going off to fight in the Great War. She also admired her Aunt Vera's brave fight in the women's suffrage movement for women to gain the right to vote. And although she was nearing the end of her teenage years, Muriel bristled at expectations that she soon get married and settle down to a life of raising children and doing household work.
So much changed when Frank left for Europe, and when her own brother Ollie lied about his age in order to enlist and fight in the war. Women across the country, including Muriel's own mother, took on new jobs that had hitherto been considered the domain of men. Muriel was left doing an extraordinary amount of work at home "for the duration," all the while praying for Frank and Ollie's safety and continuing to question the necessity and wisdom of the war. It would take more life-altering events, including a surprise visit to the suffragists' picket lines in Washington DC and the spread of influenza to her own family, for Muriel to make some important decisions about her own place in this tumultuous world.
Told in carefully-structured verse, this novel tells a mesmerizing story about a strong-minded young woman struggling to speak out at a time when women could not vote for the politicians who made decisions about war and about the loved ones who fought in that war. Through her poems, Helen Frost provides a unique way of seeing the main characters' thoughts as well as the economic and political forces shaping their lives.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children