Marina Fitch,
The Border
(Ace, 1999)

I don't normally read books based on someone else's recommendations. In fact, I'd walked past Marina Fitch's second novel, The Border, several times in the local bookstore. However, after reading Charles de Lint's recommendation on Terri Windling's Endicott Studio Web site, I figured I'd give it a try. I wasn't disappointed, but neither was I overwhelmed by Fitch's novel, either.

In the process of trying to cross the Mexican-American border, Rosa and her mama are stopped by the border police while her sister, Mary, and Irish papa make it across. Papa leaves a guardian spirit named Luz to watch over Rosa until she and Mama are able to cross. Unfortunately, too many years pass and Mama dies after giving up hope that Papa will come for them.

Rosa finally decides to take matters into her own hands. With Luz's guidance, she seeks out a "coyote" to safely lead her across the border to California. What happens next is a startling plot twist that serves to stop this part of the story and guide the reader to life on the other side of the border.

The second half of the novel introduces Terri, a young sculptor struggling to deal with the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome on her work and her life. While this section of the book seems disconnected from Rosa's mission, the culminating events involve Terri is a truly wondrous act of magic and giving.

Although some of the plot events of the novel seem forced rather than natural, The Border is a satisfying, quick read. At times gripping and eerily suspenseful, Fitch's second novel is about the borders between love and hate, magic and reality, and hope and despair.

[ by Audrey M. Clark ]



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