I really don’t know when and how I ended up with multiple novels by Pat Barker on my kindle, but here we are. And knowing that a few of them belonged to a series, I opted to read Border Crossing, a book dealing with child offenders of serious crimes, and examining the idea of people changing and finding redemption years later. Or is evil an inherent trait that can be found in children as well as adults? Honestly, the whole thing sounded kind of like that Andrew Garfield movie, Boy A, except in comparison, I found the whole thing rather bland. Or, maybe “bland” is not the right word… I guess it’s just that I felt like I needed more: more of everything. Some interesting topics and themes were brought up, but I never felt like we really got to the depth of them, or even to the depth of the character of Danny and his manipulative personality, which I found to be super intriguing and the strongest force in the story. Yet, I was left with a sense of just gliding through the whole thing with nothing to really grab onto.
The story of Border Crossing itself focuses on a child psychologist named Tom, who we first see saving a young man who dove into a river in attempted suicide. Tom soon discovers that he knows this young man named Danny, or at least, he knew the boy for a time years earlier, when Tom presented evidence that resulted in the conviction of Danny for the murder of an elderly woman when he was ten years old. But now Danny is out, and has a new identity, yet he seeks out Tom’s help to go back into his past and reconnect to what happened all those years ago. Tom soon finds himself questioning and crossing the lines between the personal and the professional, and asking himself if people can find redemption over time. He also grapples with how to best deal with Danny’s wishes and personality, as well as Tom’s own crumbling personal life. But of course, even though new identities may hold for a while, the newly committed crimes of two young children threaten to bring Danny’s past life back into the focus of the media, and expose him anew.
Truth be told, I found the character of Danny to be incredibly intriguing, and just the way he interacts with and affects the people around him. Yet, I felt as though I didn’t get enough of him through the vehicle of Tom, and didn’t even fully understand what Danny was doing or wanted from going to see Tom again. So while there was some serious potential and great points scattered through the story, the whole thing fell a little flat and came across as anticlimactic to me in the end. Though, I will say that it was not a difficult read, which is always nice when you don’t want anything too heavy or requiring of extra focus (especially since I read most of this during down-time at work). But in the end, while there isn’t really anything wrong with Border Crossing, I unfortunately feel like it is ultimately very forgettable.
[As always, this review is double-posted on my personal blog]