Title: Border Crossing
Author: Jessica Lee Anderson
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 160
Life has never been easy for Manz, the teenaged son of a Hispanic father and a white mother. His dad committed suicide, his mom’s an alcoholic, and Manz begins to suffer the psychotic symptoms that caused his father to take his life. This all sounds very dark and heavy, but Jessica Lee Anderson manages to imbue a certain amount of hope into the story of a teenager’s struggle with schizophrenia without resorting to sentimentality or easy fixes.
Manz is an appealing lead and the supporting characters manage to avoid being cliched or one-dimensional, including his trainwreck of a mother, Dolores. I felt the climactic scenes were a bit too cluttered as the author tried to tie everything together and the subplot about the death of Manz’s infant brother left me feeling confused and conflicted, but the overall the book was a lot better than I expected it to be.
I’m not schizophrenic but I suffered a psychotic break a few years ago and the descriptions of Manz’s increasing disassociation from reality struck a chord with me and reminded me of that time. The portrayal of schizophrenia in this book avoids sensationalism and focuses on what it feels like for the sufferer, which too few novels do. Even though it was a very quick read, it still managed to pack an emotional punch and parts of it will stick with me for a long time.