“That if any House be Infected, the sick person or persons be forthwith removed…for the preservation of the rest of the Family…be shut up for fourty days, and have a Red Cross, and Lord have mercy upon us, in Capital Letters affixed on the door…”

King Charles II, Orders for prevention of the Plague

From George Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead to the modern television series The Walking Dead, people are fascinated with zombies.  The YA novel Crossroads deals with the problem of reanimated corpses – the risen dead – and addresses a fundamental question…how would you act and react in the face of such a horror?

Donnie Hathaway has just been released from prison.  He’s a free man.  The only problem is that freedom can be a pretty scary thing to someone who’s been locked up.  And prison might have been a safer place.  Safer than a free world that is fast filling up with the risen dead.  Donnie must confront his fears and learn to survive…and be free.


“Get out of the car.”

Donnie didn’t look at the man who spoke.  He just reached for the door handle, and was glad to get out of the car.  The man gave him the creeps.

“If this is what it’s going to be like on the outs,” he thought, “then I’m in trouble.”

The car ride from the correctional facility had been mercifully brief, but it was still long enough to set Donnie’s teeth on edge.  They’d barely pulled out of the parking lot when his new guardian looked at him and asked, “You’re afraid of being out here aren’t you?”

“What?” Donnie said, slightly incredulous. This wasn’t exactly encouraging talk.  And Donnie was a little nervous about being free for the first time in almost a year.  Well, more than nervous, but he wasn’t about to admit it to a total and complete stranger.

“I’d be afraid too,” the man continued. “You heard about what’s happening. The sickness.  The plague.  Whatever it is.”

There are two components to this unit.  The components are as follows:

1. Crossroads the novel

Length: 27,054 words, 92 pages

Genre: Young Adult fiction

2. Crossroads: The Craft of Writing

The materials found in this part of the unit are meant to provide instruction in the craft of writing. Using examples from the novel, students will learn how to write a story. One of the most important lessons is that writing is a process.

For each component, you can approach the work in whatever way is most convenient and/or agreeable to you.  You can read and enjoy the novel all by itself.  Remember, sometimes the reading is the work.  However, The Craft of Writing is pretty good stuff.

For The Craft of Writing, I recommend that you read the text first before diving into the writing activities.

You can buy the novel and buy The Craft of Writing by clicking on the buttons below.