Crossing the Lines

(5 customer reviews)


When Mollie’s mama falls for Sherman Rook, they leave New Jersey behind and move a thousand miles west to his isolated farmstead. Mollie befriends a stray dog, but Rook’s cruelty makes her realise we must sometimes leave behind those we love in order to save ourselves. With only $20 to her name, she sets out from the farm to make her way back home across five state lines.

Amanda Huggins is the author of All Our Squandered Beauty, which won the Saboteur Award for Best Novella in 2021, and Crossing the Lines is based on her Costa award-winning story, ‘Red’.

‘Crossing the Lines is a beautifully constructed novella, rich in empathy and atmosphere, and very moving. I look forward to reading more from Amanda Huggins.’ – Alison Moore, Booker-shortlisted author of The Retreat


When Sherman Rook walks into the Jupiter diner, Mollie’s mama is instantly smitten. Despite her daughter’s reluctance, they leave the New Jersey shore behind and move to his isolated farmstead over a thousand miles west.

Fifteen-year-old Mollie distracts herself from Rook’s cruelty by befriending a stray dog she names Hal, but when Rook crosses a final line Mollie realises that sometimes we must leave behind those we love in order to save ourselves.

With only $20 to her name, she sets out from Oakridge Farm, relying on luck and the kindness of strangers as she makes her way back home across five state lines.

‘Crossing the Lines is a beautifully constructed novella, rich in empathy and atmosphere, and very moving. I look forward to reading more from Amanda Huggins.’ – Alison Moore, Booker-shortlisted author of The Retreat

Other titles by Amanda Huggins

All Our Squandered Beauty by Amanda Huggins – Victorina Press

Brightly Coloured Horses by Mandy Huggins | Waterstones

Scratched Enamel Heart by Amanda Huggins | Waterstones

Separated From The Sea by Huggins Amanda | Waterstones

The Collective Nouns for Birds by Amanda Huggins | Waterstones

The Author

Amanda Huggins is the author of the novella, All Our Squandered Beauty, which won the 2021 Saboteur Award for Best Novella, as well as four collections of short fiction and poetry. Her travel writing, fiction and poetry have been widely published in anthologies, travel guides, newspapers and magazines. Her short stories have also been broadcast on BBC radio.

She has won several awards for her travel writing, most notably the BGTW New Travel Writer of the Year in 2014, and has been listed and placed in numerous short story and poetry competitions, including Bridport, Bath, and the Alpine Fellowship Award. In 2018 she was a runner-up in the Costa Short Story Award, and In 2020 she won the Colm Toibin International Short Story Award, was included in the BIFFY50 list of Best British and Irish Flash Fictions, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her poetry chapbook, The Collective Nouns for Birds, won the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet. In 2021 she won the H E Bates Short Story Competition and was a runner-up in the Fish Short Story Prize.

Amanda grew up on the North Yorkshire coast, moved to London in the 1990s, and now lives in West Yorkshire. She is a creative writing tutor and freelance editor.

Troutie McFish Tales – Authors Blog

5 reviews for Crossing the Lines

  1. Gail Aldwin

    This is a beautifully written novella, where layers of the narrative build to offer insight into two communities and many relationships. Mollie, the young protagonist, travels treacherous landscapes and grows wiser for the journey. Crossing The Lines shows it’s possible to break intergenerational cycles of behaviour … or not. Amanda Huggins uses skilful, sensory prose of offer a wonderful reading experience. What a joy!

  2. Mike Lewis

    A road trip across America, the mistakes and lessons that pass across generations – Crossing the Lines by Amanda Huggins follows the journey of mother and daughter Ella and Mollie as they head west with the dubious Sherman Rook.
    First loves, lost loves, an unsettling and lingering threat of violence, Huggins creates a dusty, middle American landscape that acts as a backdrop for Mollie’s incident filled trek home to the East Coast.
    This is a beautifully written tightly constructed novella, almost poetic in its descriptions.
    Huggins has a masterful grasp of language and within a few pen strokes creates characters that are wholly believable.
    The narrative arc works well within such a few pages and Huggins controls the pace and direction of the story with great skill.

  3. Hannah Retallick

    Another beautiful novella from Amanda Huggins. I read it in one sitting. It feels darker and edgier than some of her other stories and is drawn with an expert hand. As always, her writing style gives the reader enough but never too much; profound and unpretentious.

    Narrated in the third person, the novella shows a variety of characters’ perspectives, switching in each chapter. It felt unobtrusive, almost seamless. That is quite a feat. Though Mollie is the protagonist, I found myself sympathising with most of the characters, even the unpleasant ones, because they are well-rounded and believable with fleshed-out backstories.

    Amanda draws you in and before you know it you’ve reached the end. It is satisfying but makes you curious to know what happens next. It would have been easy for her to tie up the loose ends, but she chooses a subtler, more nuanced ‘open conclusion’. I love this realistic depiction of life, in all its messy complexity! Through her empathetic depictions, we experience the intricacies of the human experience, their vulnerabilities, and their desire to be saved. Some of the characters end up in a good place; perhaps the other characters can overcome their inner demons and choose a better path too. Who knows? Well…I sensed that there was hope.

  4. Sarah Linley

    An atmospheric and haunting coming-of-age story of a young girl escaping her fate and returning to her roots. With compelling characters and evocative prose, this is a journey of self discovery that will stay with you long after you read the last line.

  5. Allison Symes

    This deeply moving novel by Amanda Huggins will have you turnng the page, keen to find out whether the lead character, Mollie, does cross the lines. The story will have you rooting for Mollie as she aims to escape a predatory situation not of her making.

    Huggins has a real talent for making you feel you are there with Mollie, sensing her fears and determination not to be beaten. The other major figures in the novel are deftly portrayed. You understand where they come from though I wanted to scream at Mollie’s mother.

    Mollie’s journey is transformational in so many ways. Descriptions are vivid, paint the backdrop the reader needs to see, and the action is at an appropriate pace.

    Where Huggins does do so well here is in not allowing the drama to spill over into melodrama. It could easily have done so given the themes of predatory behaviour and parental neglect.

    An engrossing read where you must find out what happens. Does Mollie get away with her actions? Could there possibly be a good ending here? Do read and find out.

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