Crossing Boundaries by Jean St. Claire
November 28th, 2015
I do not say that about a lot of stories. Im feeling all kinds of feels, and it is NOT in a good way. I should disclose, this is in no way a jab or attempt to undermine the author. This book is problematic in a handful of ways, and while there probably was a level of bravery(used very loosely) required to release this book, I can't ignore how harmful the tropes, dialogue, the descriptions, and the lack of editing. I've seen this kind of story told before. In a different situation I think it could've been executed in a manner that at the very least started an interesting debate.
However, this book is marketed as a Romance, and an Interracial one at that. My personal biases affect the way I saw this book as a reader, but I'm others will notice it too.
I've taken nearly 6 months to review this, because I wanted to go at it without coming down on a writer's dream. But there simply isn't a way to review the book without heavily criticizing it.
But... here goes.
Crossing Boundaries followed around a 30ish teacher(could've been 29, but it's been a while since I've read) who ends up having an affair with her 18 year old student.
I know some people are going to find this icky, especially if you have children. The situation is problematic because teachers, whether they're human or not and make mistakes, are in a position of power they shouldn't cross. But some do. It's fiction, so if I'm choosing to read about this subject matter, I want to see it done well, even if it grosses me out.
I was more grossed out by the problematic language more than the affair, and that's just a damn shame.
First of all, the main character Keisha? I was a little confused. So she's the default caramel complexion we've come to know in the Interracial genre. Sigh. But she mentioned her mother was 70% Native American.
African-American and Latino people, why do we still do this? I'm not saying we don't have Amerindian blood, but most Latino/African Americans have more European blood than anything. Maybe that sounds better than saying White?
But if a woman is 70% NA, than regardless of having Black ancestry, they're going to be...well Native American. Tell why her mother is dark skinned, slinging the N-word like it's going out of style?
I'm probably one of the few book bloggers that don't have a problem with the word if it's used by Black people(regardless of heritage) but if this woman is basically NA, she has no business using the word. Period.
Of course that's the stand in for Black in this book. Everybody attractive is fair, with hazel/green or light eyes, while all the dark skinned people are scary looking, or hood as fuck.
Now Keisha and her husband were hood. But they went to college, so I guess they thought they were better than people in lower socioeconomic backgrounds, even though their neighbors were all scared of their blackness. And the way they refer to their children as "little N-words" was just disgusting.
I can't believe I haven't even gotten to the actual plot yet. A subplot was that Keisha's husband handled their finances, and because she didn't ask many questions, he was mismanaging their money. Since they had a very Me-Man, You-Woman relationship, it never dawned on her that two expensive cars, an expensive house, an expensive babysitter(who her husband was cheating on her with btw) among a collection of things they couldn't afford would dwindle their expenses.
Her job at an inner city school was too "ghetto" for her, so she quit and ends up finding out they're living check to check, so she has to find a new job.
I'm not even gonna get into how much of a jerk her husband was, acting like he was a young Shemar Moore. And how fair skinned Latina puss was worth her insulting him about how only money could motivate her to have sex with him...
Let me calm down. I don't want this to come off as hateful. I really wanted this book to work for me. But the moment Keisha went to work for a private school, aka all white school, she meets Zack, the boy she ends up having an affair with.
Everything Zack liked about her was because she had a "Black" body, but she wasn't too "Black". I would probably punch someone for saying half the things Zack said to Keisha, and I'm on this Buddhist life, Im not even supposed to have these violent thoughts XD
The first time they had sex, it was so rape-y, that Zack's privilege oozed all over Keisha, and White dick saves her dry spell of not wanting to have sex with her husband. The sex was written too erotically to not feel some kind of way about it. Maybe if Zack had been in college it would've been different, but since he's in high school it feels off.
I want to see books like Lolita, but from a woman's perspective, whether she's apologetic about it or not. This was a miss for me, especially since their dumb asses weren't using condoms, so she ends up getting pregnant by her rich White boy. Who saves her from her money problems, and takes on her two kids...
It was an epic fail of colorism, exoticification, and a lot of other things I wasn't comfortable with. This book might work for some people. It just didn't work for me.
If you think you'd like to delve further and give it a chance, it's free on Amazon. Good luck.