Noughts and Crosses, also known as Tic-Tac-Toe, has traditionally been seen as a lighthearted and educational game for children. However, in this Carnegie-Medal-winning sequel, the game takes on a much more significant and thought-provoking role.
The story begins with the introduction of Sephy, formally known as Persephone Hadley. Sephy is a Cross, meaning she has darker skin and is part of the privileged and influential class in society. Her father, Kamal Hadley, is the Prime Minister, and her life is one of luxury, with a grand mansion, devoted servants, and immense wealth at her disposal. Despite all of this, Sephy is plagued by feelings of emptiness and confusion about the widespread inequality and injustice surrounding her.
As a child, Sephy formed a close bond with Callum McGregor, the son of her former Nought nanny, Jasmine McGregor. Callum, like his mother, is a Nought, characterized by lighter skin and a less privileged background. Noughts, like Callum and his family, are looked down upon and treated as second-class citizens by the Crosses. This stark contrast between the two characters sets the stage for a powerful and thought-provoking story that explores themes of race, class, and discrimination.
However, Callum was not like the others, he held onto a vision of a world where everyone was treated with fairness and equality, regardless of their race. Despite the barriers and prejudice that separated the Crosses and Noughts, Sephy and Callum were able to form a close friendship.
Unfortunately, this friendship was tested when Callum was given the opportunity to attend Heathcroft, a highly regarded school reserved for the Crosses. Upon his arrival, Callum was met with hostility and discrimination from his classmates, with Sephy being one of the few exceptions who showed him kindness. Despite Sephy’s unwavering support, Callum felt isolated and marginalized, leading to a growing resentment and animosity towards the Crosses.
To make matters even more complicated and devastating, Callum’s sister Lynette McGregor tragically took her own life by throwing herself in front of a bus. This act was a result of the intense discrimination and societal rejection she faced as a Nought in love with a Cross. This heartbreaking event marked the end of Sephy’s naivete and innocence as she finally comprehended the cruel reality of society and the disapproval of any relationship between Noughts and Crosses. This tragedy served as a stark reminder of the deeply ingrained prejudice and hate that still existed within their world
Callum’s life was forever changed when his once happy and humble family crumbled right before his very eyes. The tragedy began with the death of his father, Ryan McGregor, who met his untimely demise after attempting to escape a public hanging. The cause of Ryan’s death was the electric fence that was set up as a security measure. This was the result of his crime of bombing the Dundale Shopping Centre as a part of his mission for the Liberation Militia, an underground society that defied the rules and laws imposed by the ruling entity known as the Crosses.
Adding to Callum’s heartache, his older brother Jude, who was already known for his chaotic behavior, chose to further distance himself from the family by running away from home. Jude cut off all communication with his family members in an effort to concentrate solely on the tasks assigned to him by the Liberation Militia. This sudden and complete abandonment only added to Callum’s distress and confusion about the events that had transpired in his family.
After spending several years away at Chivers, a remote boarding school, Sephy returned to her hometown filled with nostalgia and longing for the familiar comforts of home. She had officially severed ties with Callum, her childhood friend and former crush, after he joined the ranks of the Liberation Militia (LM). Despite her disappointment with Callum’s choice, Sephy still held onto the fond memories of their time together at Heathcroft, and upon her return, she clung to the hope that perhaps there was still a chance for a rekindled romance.
However, her hopes were quickly dashed when she received a letter from Callum. Rather than the love letter she had dreamed of, it was a mission statement from the LM, instructing her to surrender to their custody for the good of the movement. The realization that the person she had once cared for so deeply was now an enemy came as a painful blow, leaving Sephy to navigate the treacherous waters of a world torn apart by political strife and personal betrayals.
Her father, Kamal Hadley, who was serving as the Prime Minister, was faced with a dilemma when his daughter, Sephy, was taken hostage and held captive. The captors demanded that Kamal give into their demands in exchange for Sephy’s release. During this time, Callum, who had been a close friend of Sephy, realized that his feelings for her ran much deeper than just friendship. The intense emotions that he was feeling inside him couldn’t be contained and in a moment of passion, he and Sephy consummated their relationship.
This act of defiance caused McGregor, the leader of the captors, to have a change of heart. He saw the love that existed between Callum and Sephy and decided to help them escape from the clutches of the LM. However, they knew that they had to keep their love a secret due to the rejection and discrimination they would face from the community. They made plans to meet again on Callum’s birthday, where they could be together without fear of persecution.
Despite the challenges that they faced, Sephy and Callum continued to move forward, hand in hand. Sephy rejected any offers for an abortion and put an end to any rumors of rape that were circulating about their relationship. This strong and determined couple wanted to keep their baby and maintain a positive outlook for their future. Despite the obstacles that lay ahead, they were determined to persevere and make their love story a success.
The relationship between Sephy and Callum is central to the novel, and it is a testament to the power of love and the importance of breaking down social barriers. The two characters are able to overcome their differences and find love, despite the challenges that they face. Their love is a source of strength and courage, even in the face of adversity, and the reader is left with a sense of hope that love can conquer all. The novel is a powerful reminder of the importance of standing up for what you believe in and fighting for a better future, despite the odds.