I was invited by Random House to read an advance review copy of Crux: A Cross Border Memoir due to my interest in memoirs. Crux publishes tomorrow, July 17, 2018.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
4.5 harrowing stars to Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️.5
In Crux, Jean Guerrero, an investigative reporter, writes about her search for her father, Marco Antonio, a search in the figurative and literal senses, as she seeks understanding while also trying to pinpoint why he is on the run and where he is.
Marco is gifted at creating and engineering, all self-taught, and he meets Guerrero’s mother, when she is just out of medical school. Marco says he has special powers, that he is a shaman and can talk to animals, and it turns out, others in his lineage also had powers. However, Marco has difficulty with paranoia and thinks that the CIA wants to control his mind. He also uses drugs and alcohol to excess at times.
Guerrero, the reporter that she is, researches reasons for Marco’s behavior, other than possible schizophrenia. More than anything, she wants to understand her father. Traveling through Mexico, she interviews family and that is when she discovers that others in her father’s family background were mystics. Guerrero ends up taking some risks herself while on this journey, traveling through dangerous places and experimenting with those same things that tempt her father. She puts everything she has on the line, including her life, in her quest for answers.
Guerrero’s writing is exquisite, and while the format of the narrative jumps around in time somewhat, I did not mind because the story is so engaging. Her search for her father and the symbolism involved in the title alone gives me pause at all the various meanings. Not only did her father cross actual physical borders (and Guerrero did as well in her search), but he crosses that thin line between reality and disconnection from it.
Overall, Crux is an adventure and an exploration of the relationship between father and daughter. It is powerful, fascinating, enlightening, and begs the question of, in the process of Guerrero desperately seeking to find and understand her father, will she also find herself.
Thank you to Random House for the invitation to read this original memoir. Crux will be published on July 17, 2018.
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A daughter’s quest to find, understand, and save her charismatic, troubled, and elusive father, a self-mythologizing Mexican immigrant who travels across continents–and across the borders between imagination and reality; and spirituality and insanity–fleeing real and invented persecutors.
In the tradition of parent-child memoirs, Enrique’s Journey meets The Glass Castle, here is the haunting story of a daughter’s quest to understand her father, to save him from his own demons and to save herself from following his self-destructive path. Marco Antonio was born in Mexico but as a teenager migrated with his large family north to California, where he met Jean’s mother, a young Puerto Rican woman just out of med school. Marco was a self-taught genius at fixing and creating things–including a mythology about himself as a shaman, a dreamcaster, and an animal whisperer, rather than the failed father, husband, and son he feared he was. Before long Marco goes on the run from his family and responsibilities–to Asia, to Europe, and eventually back to Mexico–with long crack and whiskey binges, suffering from what he claimed were CIA mind control experiments. As soon as she’s old enough, Jean follows.
Using her skills as a journalist, and her lifelong obsessions with the fuzzy lines between truth and fantasy, Jean searches for explanations for her father’s behavior other than schizophrenia, the diagnosis her mother whispered to Jean when she was still a child. She takes his wildest claims seriously and investigates them. She interviews cousins and grandparents and discovers a chain of fabulists and mystics, going back to her great great grandmother, a clairvoyant curandera who was paid to summon forth voices and visions from the afterlife. She begins mirroring her father’s self-destructive behavior in her own wild experiements with sex and drugs and her flirtations with death in jungles and the middle of the sea. She risks everything in her quest to understand and redeem her father from the underworld of his obsessions and delusions and self-destruction — to bring him back to the world of the living.
This is the story of a child’s search for an elusive parent–through exploration, analysis, and embodiment–but also a penetrating journey into the idea of borders and crossings: between sanity and madness, cultures and languages, scientific worlds and mystical, spiritual impulses, life and death. Crux is both a riveting adventure story driven by desire and a profoundly original exploration of the mysteries of our world, our most intimate relationships, and ourselves.