Border Crossing

( 3 )


The mixed-race son of apple pickers, Manz lives with his hard-drinking mother and her truck-driver boyfriend in the hardscrabble world of dusty Rockhill, Texas. Forced to take a summer job rebuilding fence of a cattle ranch, Manz works alongside his friend Jed and meets a girl named Vanessa — but even among his friends, Manz suffers from an uncontrollable paranoia. As the summer wears on, Manz becomes convinced that "Operation Wetback," a brutal postwar relocation program, is being put back into effect. As the ...
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The mixed-race son of apple pickers, Manz lives with his hard-drinking mother and her truck-driver boyfriend in the hardscrabble world of dusty Rockhill, Texas. Forced to take a summer job rebuilding fence of a cattle ranch, Manz works alongside his friend Jed and meets a girl named Vanessa — but even among his friends, Manz suffers from an uncontrollable paranoia. As the summer wears on, Manz becomes convinced that "Operation Wetback," a brutal postwar relocation program, is being put back into effect. As the voices in his head grow louder and more insistent, Manz struggles to negotiate the difficulties of adolescence, the perils of an oppressed environment, and the terror of losing his grip on reality.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—When Manz and his friend Jed get a job on a cattle ranch mending fences, they always see illegal immigrants from Mexico line up for scant day jobs in Rockhill, TX. The teen begins to worry that "the Man" will discover that he is half-Mexican and deport him. He has a near-constant humming in his ear, which is sometimes so loud that he can't hear anything else. He meets Vanessa Ortiz and attends her family barbecue, where Mr. Ortiz describes "Operation Wetback," a cruel repatriation of illegal immigrants deep in the jungles of Mexico after World War II. Soon, Manz becomes convinced that the authorities are out to get him. Also, it's becoming more difficult for him to ignore his mother's drinking. She recognizes the signs of mental illness in him—his father, Loco, exhibited many of the same behaviors before his fatal car wreck—and she urges her son to get help. He refuses, as he is increasingly convinced his mother is part of the government's plot to deport him. Manz manages to connect with Jed's younger sister, who is supportive, even in the face of her unpredictable father's rage. Short chapters and clear descriptions of Manz's hallucinatory experiences provide a harrowing but sympathetic glimpse into his struggles to combat his deteriorating condition. The first-person narrative gives readers a poignant close-up of the teen's gradual loss of control to paranoid schizophrenia. Anderson's vivid portrayal of this frightening illness nevertheless offers hope for the valiant human spirit.—Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
Kirkus Reviews
The poignant story of Manz, a 15-year-old boy trying to cope with a dysfunctional relationship with his alcoholic mother and the humming noises, whispering voices and scary visions that only he perceives. Through the teenager's first-person narration, Anderson traces the isolated landscape of Rockhill, a very small town in Texas, and reveals the distressing stories behind the apparent simplicity of its inhabitants' lives. Manz is the son of an undocumented Mexican "Loco" who died in a car accident and a white girl, Delores, who in defiance of her parents gave birth to him at the age of 16. Disillusionment, domestic violence, informants, Border Patrol agents and unsolved crimes are the pieces that form the puzzle of his Anglo community. A strong sense of family, a mystic love for the land and the fear of deportation are the sentiments that he reads in the mysterious people of triangular eyes and dark skin, the Mexican Americans. A sad and thought-provoking exploration of mental illness. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781571316912
  • Publisher: Milkweed Editions
  • Publication date: 10/27/2009
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 1,453,138
  • Age range: 12 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 30, 2014

    Wow, Border Crossing was one interesting and quite different boo

    Wow, Border Crossing was one interesting and quite different book. Anderson tends to get her ideas out to the reader in a very straight forward but hidden way. What all of the characters in this book have in common are that they are all dealing with some sort of problem in their lives. These problems vary from mental illnesses to class differences to teen pregnancy and many other conflicts that each individual is going through. The reason I had first bought this book was because I thought it was about literal border crossing, but no.The title of this book had a different meaning to what the book is actually about. After noticing that almost all the characters in this book had some sort of conflict interfering with their lives, I realized that the term "Border Crossing" was a metaphor. All the characters are trying to "cross" their own borders. What this means is that their own problems are like the border. As seen and heard, boarders are very difficult to cross with more conflict coming towards you along the way while trying to get over. When you read the book you notice that Isaiah Martinez or "Manz" was born from a teen pregnancy. His mother Delores faces alcoholism which later on leads the family to believing that drinking was the reason they lost Gabriel in a stillbirth. Manz's Father died when he was young, so he did not always have the love and support of a father. One of his very close friend's Jed, has an abusive father and ends up tearing up his own family at the end. Class differences and immigration are also a big problem in this book. They reveal how they are real problems in the world. Manz's crush Vanessa is American and lives on the farm where he works for little money. Later Manz find out about Operation Wetback and this is when his problem really started getting increasingly worse. Not until the end, we find out that Manz has a mental illness called Schizophrenia Paranoia. As I read about Manz hearing voices in his head, it was quite confusing. They got me a bit off track on to thinking that they were real. Turns out they are not and all of the voices are just going on in his head. After he goes through a dramatic run away and ends up in the hospital we realize that he had been developing a mental disease. At the very end of the book, the last sentence to be exact, Manz says, " I knew there was still another border to cross." What he meant by this was that the next border he was going to try and cross was his mental illness. Although this was a short, fly by read, it was still a very good and well organized book that not all books have. This was one very unique book that traps the reader in a way to keep reading on what is going to happen next.  Although the characters are fictitious, the over all story and plot of the book is very real and happens to real people in this real life. 

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  • Posted January 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Must Read!!

    Isaiah Luis "Manz" Martinez was born to a teenage mother, whose father disowned her not because she got pregnant so young but because she was carrying a Mexican's child. Manz is Mexican and Caucasian. His father, Adres "Loco" Martinez, passed away and so did his half-brother, Gabriel. Now it's just him and his mother, Delores, and her man, Thomas, whose job as a truck driver takes him away from home a lot. Manz and his family don't have much to live on, so he does his part by taking on a summer job. Working at Darby Guest Ranch is tougher than he thought but nothing is more difficult than listening to the strange sounds and voices no one else can hear. Will Manz learn to distinguish what's real from what's not or will he allow the voices to destroy him? Jedediah (Jed) Parker isn't fighting a battle in his mind like his friend, but, just like Manz, he doesn't have the life of a typical teenager. This young man has a lot to deal with. He's more than a son and a brother; he's his mother and sister's protector, doing what he can to keep them safe from his abusive father. I bought this book because I wanted to see how the author dealt with a subject as delicate as schizophrenia. I decided I was going to take my time reading; absorb every word so I'd understand exactly what Manz was going through. I predicted a couple of things early on in the story, but only because I know this mental disorder can be hereditary and extremely difficult to live with. Something that occurred with the Parker family was unexpected and the thoughts tormenting Manz at that time saddened me. And the paranoia Manz experienced throughout the story was so cleverly written that at times I wondered if what was really was. There are teenagers, like Manz, who have way more to worry about than fitting in, getting good grades, etc. Their issues are much deeper and more frustrating because they have no control over what's going on. I sympathized with Manz, that's for sure, and my heart goes out to every single person who is struggling with this illness. Border Crossing is a well-written page-turner; definitely a must read!!

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  • Posted April 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Melanie Foust for

    Manz's summer starts off regularly enough. Listening to his mother, Delores, come home drunk at night. Getting short-term jobs at ranches in the area with his friend, Jed. Then strange things begin happening.

    He starts hearing voices, and they won't stop. They begin telling him what to do, and he starts listening. They tell him that people are after him. He's on the watch, constantly on edge. The border patrol will come to get him any day now, and everyone he knows is a conspirator in their plan. Or so he thinks.

    Anderson has created an intriguing cast of characters who all deal with serious issues. Manz has schizophrenia, making it hard to know whether or not to believe anything that comes out of his mouth. At the start of the book, it isn't so bad, but as the story progresses it becomes increasingly worse. Delores has an alcohol addiction that amps up every time her partner, Tom, leaves town. Since Tom is a truck driver, that's fairly often. Manz's friend, Jed, deals with domestic violence from his father at home. Jed's mother and sister suffer, as well.

    At less than two-hundred pages, BORDER CROSSING is a very quick read. The plot keeps you alert at all times, never knowing which way things will go. Although the ending isn't quite as clear as I would have liked, it still manages to wrap up the story well, while simultaneously leaving some things for the reader to decide on their own.

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