A Daughter's Quest for Her Border-Crossing Father
A daughter’s quest to understand her charismatic and troubled father, an immigrant who crosses borders both real and illusory—between sanity and madness, science and spirituality, life and death—now with a new afterword
PEN America Literary Award Winner • “The kind of memoir that seems to redefine the genre.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
From renowned journalist Jean Guerrero, here is the haunting story of a daughter’s mission to save her father from his demons and to save herself from destruction. Marco Antonio was raised in Mexico, then migrated to California, where he met Jean’s mother, Jeannette, a Puerto Rican woman just out of med school. Marco is a self-taught genius at building things—including mythologies about himself and the hidden forces that drive us. When he goes on the run, Jean follows and embarks on an investigative journey between cultures and languages, the earthly and the mystical, truth and fiction.
A distinctive memoir about the search for an elusive parent, Crux is both a riveting adventure story and a profoundly original exploration of the mysteries of our world, our most intimate relationships, and ourselves.
“[Guerrero] writes poetically about borders as a metaphor for the boundary of identity between father and daughter and the porous connective tissues that bind them.”—The National Book Review
A daughter probes her troubled family history and her own stormy psyche in this melodramatic memoir. Journalist Guerrero, a reporter for KPBS in San Diego, recounts her fraught relationship with her father, Marco, a charismatic Mexican immigrant who started a family in San Diego with her mother, a Puerto Rico born doctor. Her father became a crack addict who wrapped himself in aluminum foil to keep the CIA from beaming voices into his head. His is just one strand of colorful family history: Marco's mother had to marry his father, who raped and abducted her; a great-great-grandmother was a curandera witch, foreshadowing Marco's shamanistic studies; Guerrero herself grapples with adolescent angst, self-cutting, dangerous men, and psychedelic drugs. ("The whole universe rushed in through every pore of my body, causing me to swell and expand at the speed of light," she reports from an ecstasy-fueled rave.) Guerrero's meditations on cultural border-crossings feel unfocused and unearned since her well-to-do family crosses back and forth between Mexico and the United States on a regular basis with little difficulty; meanwhile, the disjointed narrative takes major offense to minor mishaps "Mexico wanted me dead," she broods after falling uninjured into a hole in Mexico City and bogs down in teary bickering between family members. The result is an overwrought, uninvolving multigenerational soap opera with some trauma and eccentricity, but not a lot of emotional power.