Ms. Anderson's website: Manz is sure of one thing—he lives on the wrong side of the tracks in dusty Rockhill, Texas. Life is tough for everyone—his hard-drinking mother, her truck-driving boyfriend, even his privileged friend Jed—but especially for Manz, the mixed-race son of migrant apple pickers. If he could only get out of town, his life would be better.Here's a bit about Border Crossing from
When the summer heat sets in, Manz and Jed take a job rebuilding fence for a cattle ranch outside town. There he meets Vanessa, who works in the ranch's kitchen. The two hit it off, but Manz isn't sure he can trust her. As the dog days drag on, Manz must negotiate an unwieldy terrain involving an unpredictable, alcoholic mother, a best friend whose father uses him as a punching bag, and a simmering, creeping delusion that "Operation Wetback"—which brutally relocated illegal aliens deep in Mexican territory following World War II—has been put back into effect. Manz's bright and questioning mind begins to give in to its own claustrophobic temptations as he finds guidance in the voices that have been growing louder and more insistent each day.
*Note: I won this book from Nerds Heart YA. I want to thank them. Stop by their site sometime.
To represent a young adult with mental illness in a book can be challenging. To depict them beautifully and with any kind of honesty is even more difficult. However, that is exactly what Ms. Anderson winds up doing. She masterfully writes about the frightening descent into schizophrenia. Soon enough we feel Manz's terrifying paranoia that everyone is out to get him. His fear of being deported, despite his being a legal citizen is crippling him. Manz's family does not discuss their problems. His mother drowns the grief of the loss of Gabriel (Manz's half brother) in the whiskey bottles she hides. Tom, Manz's stepfather covers his grief in constant jokes.
Manz wants to help Jed, his best friend and Jed's sister Sally. Their father is physically abusive to the entire family. Sadly, he can't seem to ignore the voices long enough to see any avenues of assistance for them.