Carlos Crosses The Line
From US Review
by Kat Kennedy
“No one should have to sneak across the border, hide from la migra and plead for a pathetic job that pays crap.”
“Carlos Montoya is a young father of two who must leave his family in Mexico to find work in the fields of California. He begins work at the Booker Ranch and immediately finds himself caught in an impossible situation when the owner’s wife chooses him for a special project. Soon he begins a friendship with their daughter, Julie, and embarks on a romantic relationship with another woman, Maria. When Julie fears her father may harm Carlos, she convinces him to leave and return home. However, Carlos returns to America the next year, and this time, he doesn’t escape unharmed. His past catches up with him. He is arrested and beaten before escaping back to Mexico, vowing never to return. Twenty-six years later, a stranger arrives at his door with a message from an old friend in America. Carlos must now weigh his loyalty against his fear.
Set against the turbulence of the late sixties, this novel addresses many of the social issues of the time, especially those relevant to migrant workers in California. Though the novel’s protagonist and his relationships are front and center in the storyline, they are a catalyst for the story of the treatment of migrant workers and American attitudes about immigrants. Not only is the novel an exploration of these attitudes, but it also delves into philosophical questions about religion through Carlos’s struggles with his Catholic faith and belief in God. The title is a hint of what is to come in Carlos’s story with his crossing of many lines—physical, social, cultural, and moral. This is an intriguing story that explores the capacity of good, evil, and everything in between that exists within the human race.”
RECOMMENDED by the US Review
From The Prairies Book Review
A stirring romance…
Set in California and Mexico, Webster’s gripping latest tells the story of one man’s journey through life. Carlos Montoya always had trouble with his culture’s unquestioning faith, but when at twenty-two, he arrived in California illegally and suffered great misery at the hands of his Anglo employer, he lost his faith completely. When his employer’s wife offers to use him in martial combat against her philandering husband in exchange of money, Carlos doesn’t think twice. But the guilt weighs heavy on his mind, and his passionate affairs with two different women while his wife waits at home in Mexico strains his psyche further. Now 26 years later, the lovely Lilia Gomez arrives at his doorstep with questions about his old transgressions. The long-buried secrets come to surface, and the fate offers Carlos a chance to come to peace with his tortured past. Webster beautifully explores the trials and hardships of Mexican immigrants and the marked social differences (Carlos’s family lives at the edge of poverty back home while his employers come from a privileged background) against the background of the free-love, nonreligious ’60s California. Carlos’s relaxed attitude toward his extramarital affairs combined with his overly convenient justifications of being away from his wife make him not-so-likable character. But Webster’s gritty candor and unflinching gaze at Carlos’s shortcomings make the narrative ring with authenticity. Webster’s writing is assured, and he takes great care to draw his flesh-and-blood, humane characters. The shifting narrative (between the past and present) flows smoothly, and the heartfelt ending leaves a sweet note in readers’ minds. This is a must read for fans of literary fiction.
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