Young Latino's Struggle with Schizophrenia
I love multicultural novels that accurately portray their characters and their lives.
Border Crossing is no exception.
Fifteen-year-old Isaiah Luis "Manz" Martinez lives with his unpredictable mother and her truck driver boyfriend in no where Rockhill, Texas. He takes a summer job with his friend Jed where he meets Vanessa. She invites him to a family party. Manz isn't sure whether or not to go as he doesn't trust anyone but decides to go anyway. Once there he meets her father who talks about Operation Wetback, where Mexican American were sent back to Mexico regardless if they were born there or not. Vanessa's father warns that the border authorities are planning another raid. This sets off a string of reactions, including voices that only Manz can hear. Manz fears that the border patrol will send him to Mexico. Also he fears what's going on with his friend Jed. All the while the voices grow stronger and stronger. Which voice should he listen to and trust before it's too late?
I have one word to describe this novel: WOW. Anderson nails the whole struggle with two cultures. The descriptions of the racism were true too. I've had to deal with this same thing too. Only since I'm fair skinned, I get a number of reactions when I tell people not to repeat racist comments as my own great grandmother was Mexican and a daughter of migrant workers.
Manz's slow descent into madness is painted vividly. The voices don't just start shouting but build to a roar after some time. Manz's battle with schizophrenia will move you.
What I especially loved about this book was Manz. His character not only has to deal with mental illness but struggles with his feelings of his mixed heritage. What is he? Mexican? Or Anglo? The reactions of those around him, from his mother's boss to the dayworkers waiting for work are very revealing and also only reinforce his confusion.
I recommend this book to those looking for multicultural novels that don't reinforce the usual Mexican American stereotype. Intense at times but equally gripping, Manz's story will stay with you.