Crossers is a very satisfying read that follows three generations of a family while exposing the realities of border issues and the influence of the past upon the present.
The novel begins in 1903 when teenager Ben Erskine is faced with a brutal event on the border that quickly turns him from a boy into a man. Flash forward to the aftermath of 9/11, where Erskine’s grandson, Gil Castle, has lost his wife in the Twin Towers tragedy and is struggling to pull his life back together. In a desperate attempt to save himself from his grief, he decides to visit distant relatives who live on a cattle ranch in Arizona. Soon after arriving, Gil rescues Miguel, a dying smuggler who reveals that his friends were murdered in a drug deal turned sour. Gil soon learns that he is in over his head and that he cannot escape his family’s history.
Caputo’s setting comes across as very authentic; his descriptions of the Arizona border clearly show that he has spent time there. He conveys that the lawlessness of the Wild West of long ago is still alive and thriving along the U.S./Mexican border. The characters are very well drawn, multi-dimensional and interesting; one feels as though these are real people with real problems. The past and present have been woven together with oral transcripts inserted throughout the narrative. With complex characters and a setting of rugged contrasts, Crossers is an excellent read.