Saturday, April 21, 2012

S for Schizophrenia - Border Crossing, by Jessica Lee Anderson (fiction)

Being an outsider, a minority, a "half-breed".
Hearing mocking laughter from privileged people.
Hearing voices in his head telling him to do something about it.

Manz has only his mom's stories to tell him about his Mexican father and how he died a crazy man. Her boyfriend Tom is a good enough guy, excited about being a father to their baby, sorrowing when Gabe is stillborn. Mom still hasn't gotten over it, just drinks her dinner, fills Gabriel's crib with painting after painting.

Who knows why the voices chose to invade his head, why the Messenger is warning Manz that his best friend might turn on him, that the Border Patrol will kill him, that everyone in the little dusty Texas town wants to see the teen dead.

A compelling look at the world through the eyes of schizophrenia - will Manz make the Border Crossing back into sanity after this violent summer?

Book info: Border Crossing / Jessica Lee Anderson. Milkweed Editions, 2009. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: On the wrong side of the tracks, Manz wonders if things will ever go right for his family – Mexican father dead, white mother drinking herself crazy after his brother was stillborn, competing with illegals for work in the blazing hot Texas summer sun.

At least his pal Jed will be working with him at the dude ranch, pulling up rotted fence posts, putting up new fences, away from Jed’s mean dad who’d sooner hit his son than talk to him. Manz worries about Jed and his sister, having to put up with that abuse.

Thorns and barbed wire, dust and more dust, Manz and Jed are glad to stop for lunch in the cool of the ranch’s chow hall. Of course, Jed flirts relentlessly with the cute Latina girl who serves the guests; Manz is tongue-tied, but Vanessa looks at him, not Jed.

Maybe soon, his mom’s boyfriend Tom will be back from his long-haul trucking run and can get her to calm down and stop drinking again. Manz needs to ask Tom if the Border Patrol is getting more aggressive everywhere – seems like they’re around every corner in Rockhill, watching the migrant workers, watching Manz.

It’s just nervousness about meeting Vanessa’s parents that makes Manz’s brain feel fizzy and loud, just concern about how much longer Jed can fool his dad about working somewhere other than their own orchards that makes the murmurs in his head get louder, panic that he’s being targeted as half-Mexican that causes the voices inside to grow louder and louder.

The Messenger is speaking inside his head, warning Manz that the Border Patrol has begun Operation Wetback again, will deport him, will kill him, will take away his mother. As the loudness of the Messenger out-shouts the summer thunderstorm, Manz slips further away from himself. Can Jed take care of his sister if the authorities take Manz? What about his mom and Tom? Maybe the Border Patrol will use them to get him!

Schizophrenia tackles Manz and throws him down – can he find his way back to reality? (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds amazing, both haunting and gripping. It almost read like an actual sci-fi or fantasy, and I'd have thought that was it if I didn't know it was about schizophrenia!


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