cover image Crossing the Border

Crossing the Border

Kim Chernin. Fawcett Books, $22 (328pp) ISBN 978-0-449-90522-7

Leaving behind her 8-year-old daughter and the child's father in Berkeley, Calif., rebellious, idealistic Chernin ( In My Mother's House ) joined an Israeli border kibbutz in 1971, hoping to dissolve her loneliness in collective solidarity. Instead, she formed a loose romantic triangle involving moody fellow kibbutz member Simon ben Zvi and a soldier, Dov Aviad, who reminded her of her father. This menage was ruptured by Chernin's furtive, passionate lesbian affair with her married Hebrew teacher Sena, which led to jealousy, betrayals and a knife struggle with Simon in the dark. Written in the third person, a device that often seems strained, this poignant memoir is sprinkled with wry self-deprecating humor and freewheeling ruminations on eros, gender, memory and Jewish history and destiny. Chernin is now a psychotherapist in Berkeley. (Mar.)