The Crossing, like many of Paulsen's novels for young adults, pairs a teenage protagonist with an older adult.
The chance meeting of Manny Bustos and Sergeant Robert S. Locke in the border town of Juarez, Mexico, changes both lives in ways dramatic and not immediately predictable.
Manny Bustos—smallish, underfed —survives on the streets of Juarez. His existence is meager, a constant struggle in a world where brute strength leads frequently to brutality. Bigger boys and men prey on Manny, filling his already dire days with fear. Despite the adversity, Manny dreams of a better life in the United States. He will cross the border; soon his every action aims at reaching this goal.
Sergeant Robert S. Locke is a veteran of the Vietnam War. Stationed in El Paso, Texas, he crosses the border freely, and often, to drink in places where there is "noise and...