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Border Crossing: A Novel Hardcover – March 1, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1st edition (March 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374181152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374181154
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,616,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Britain's Barker is best known here for her magnificent Regeneration Trilogy, based on post-World War I cases of shell shock; her new novel, set in a dour Northumbrian city, carries some of the same sense of dread discovery into contemporary civilian life. Years ago, when eight-year-old Danny Miller was accused of the murder of an old woman, psychiatrist Tom Seymour provided damning psychological testimony at the trial. Danny was sent away to a home and vanished from Tom's life, if not from his sometimes guilty memory. Then one day Tom and his wife, Lauren, out for a walk, thwart a watery suicide attempt. The drowning young man turns out to be Danny, and he badly needs Tom's help in coming to terms with his childhood trauma. So far, so good, and Barker, with her customary vivid writing and strong narrative pull, has set up a tantalizing series of questions. Was Danny really guilty? Was Tom's evidence responsible for his upended life? And what has the experience done to Tom and his shaky marriage? When Lauren decamps and a new child murder re-ignites interest in the old Danny Miller case, the stakes are perilously raised for both Tom and Danny. There are some wonderfully tense scenes of psychological exploration; the drear Newcastle atmosphere is palpable; and Barker's ear for dialogue is, as always, acute. In the end, however, the lack of a wider resonance of the kind that made the war books and the later Another World so memorable leaves the book, for all the quality of its craft, feeling flat. It is a convincing psychological thriller, but Barker enthusiasts have come to expect much more than that. (Mar.)Forecast: As suggested, this novel is not as powerfully realized as Barker's best books, and it will likely prove disappointing to some of her U.S. admirers, which may hamper sales down the road.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In her eighth novel Barker, author of the award-winning World War I "Regeneration Trilogy," returns to the contemporary urban Newcastle setting of Another World. On a gray September afternoon, Tom and Lauren Seymour are walking along the riverbank arguing about the state of their failing marriage when a young man, after swallowing a bottle of pills, jumps into the river in front of them. Tom rescues the would-be suicide and later discovers that he has saved Danny Miller, a convicted murderer. A child psychologist, Tom had testified 13 years earlier at the then ten-year-old Danny's trial. Did his expert testimony, as Danny believes, sway the jury's verdict and send the boy to prison? Now released and living under an assumed name, Danny asks Tom to help him confront his childhood traumas, especially the murder of the old woman for which he is blamed. Still retaining a trace of guilt about the trial (perhaps Danny was as innocent as he claimed), Tom agrees and soon crosses the border between professional detachment and personal involvement. As with Barker's other books, this is a subtle psychological tale with an edge of menace. Is Danny a victim or a manipulative psychopath? Barker also captures the grittiness and bleak beauty of England's north and its people. Unfortunately, the novel falls flat at the end, leaving the reader disappointed and dissatisfied. Not one of her best efforts.
- Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Once I started reading I could hardly put it down.
Wayne Symes
Overall, not worth the money - too short, too uninteresting, too unbelieveable - plus the formatting problems.
mapuca
I have loved this engrossing novel ever since reading the book one year ago (hurrah for Pat Barker).
B.Akunin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Carpenter on May 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This engaging and very readable novel explores the inner life of a psychologist, Tom Seymour. Tom is trying to cope with the possible break-up of his marriage when he is visited by a figure from his past, Danny Miller. More than a decade earlier, Tom testified in court that Danny understood the difference between right and wrong and therefore was fit to stand trial as an adult. In the electrifying opening chapter, Tom meets the adult Danny, and is subsequently forced to consider the extent to which he may have contributed to Danny's problems.
The book explores themes including trust, betrayal, what we owe to other human beings, and the consequences of our actions. The title has multiple layers of meaning, but clearly one of the borders that fascinates Barker here, as it did in the _Regeneration_ trilogy, is the border between psychologist and patient. How much of a barrier should Tom draw between himself and Danny? What are the consequences if Danny crosses that border? Is there a danger in being too close to someone like Danny, even if one has the best of intentions? Finally, how different is Tom from Danny? Is there a little bit of cruelty in all children, all people?
Although this novel touches on a hot button issue--children and punishment--it steadfastly resists plot cliches. Danny Miller is a complex, enigmatic, intelligent, untrustworthy, yet at times movingly vulnerable character. The novel is all the stronger for refusing to reduce him to the role of either victim or monster.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on April 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Pat Barker has written some wonderful books. Many consider her, "Regeneration Trilogy", her best work, and it was the most enjoyable work of hers for me as well. Her newest work, "Border Crossing", was frustrating as it appeared weak only to become very intriguing, however in the end it did not rise to the level of her other works.
The book opens with an event that is so unlikely as to seem absurd. Ms. Barker then does a wonderful job of providing the justification for this act and uses it to stage the continuation of a relationship ended 13 years previously. She develops great tension as to the ethical choices a doctor must make, and reconstructs the years of incarceration of a juvenile murderer that is unnerving and populated with some of the best characters she has created.
As she has done in the past, she creates and resolves a great many issues in the relatively brief span of 215 pages. When the read is complete the story and some of its elements are not. Critical issues that are seemingly the justification for revaluating the past are brought to the very edge of revelation and then dropped. There is no resolution of the story just a repetition of the original placement of an individual in new circumstances. The story could easily be continued and perhaps that is what she has in mind. I certainly hope this is the case as she has created at least 2 characters that are excellent, one of whom could be the darkest creation of her writing to date.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an easy, compelling read from start to finish. Engaging characters, take you through the story of a boy murder ( or is he) and that of his psychologist. At the time the author makes one thinks about wider issues, of capacity, morality, and moral responsility. When someone serves time in prison, what is a good outcome, what should we expect from them and from those around them. If these themes sound a little heavy - worry not, Barkers fluent style and ability to keep us guessing, mean that you wont want to put this book down.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Symes on July 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A man who committed a murder when only a young boy (Danny) is released from prison and encounters the child psychologist (Tom) whose testimony was crucial in having him convicted. Their ongoing relationship and the events taking place in the child psychologists life form the basis for this novel. What is fascinating about it is the thought processes we hear running through Tom's head as he questions his own previous judgement, not just with Danny but also with Lauren (Tom's wife). Barker has very cleverly not tried to put us inside Danny's head (an altogether difficult exercise, surely?) but allowed us to experience Tom's confusion over the limited information that Danny allows himself to reveal. I was in doubt about how things would end right up to the final page. The author doesn't try to answer all the questions (which obviously proves frustrating for some reviewers), keeping the novel at a managable length, but raises enough to keep me thinking about the issues for a long time. Once I started reading I could hardly put it down.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian M. Ayres on December 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Danny Miller commits murder at age 10 and was convicted by the help of the man that saves his life 13 years later. Therapist Tomy Seymour, who testified at Miller's trial, saves Miller from drowning in the opening scenes and spends the rest of the novel figuring out what exactly happened so many years ago.
Barker paints a stunning portrait inside the mind of a child murderer, who manipulates every person who tries to help him, especially Seymour. The shirnk re-interviews those close to Miller immediately after he is sent to prison, and the tension builds in a series of therapy sessions he has with Miller.
While the climax and the ending were deflating and seem to make the whole exercise a sham and setup by Miller, Barker's writing carries the day and makes this a sensational read.
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