cover image Border Dance

Border Dance

T. L. Toma. Southern Methodist University Press, $12.95 (344pp) ISBN 978-0-87074-401-3

Nobody likes Frank Reed-neither his boss nor his teenage daughter and certainly not his wife. For a while, in this first novel, not even the reader can like him. But when the middle-aged, morally corrupt Bostonian embarks on a Mexican business trip that turns into a personal odyssey on a grand scale, Toma makes a convincing argument that Frank is a victim of circumstance, not the indifferent chain-smoker he appears to be. After concluding business sooner than expected, Frank bums around Mexico for a few days and finds himself stuck in a midlife crisis. As a remedy of sorts, the 46-year-old hooks up with named Socorro (meaning, significantly, help or succor), a 19-year-old Mexican woman seeking refuge across the border in the U.S. As expected, Frank and Socorro engage in steamy sexual antics which Toma depicts with evocative descriptions and telling details, making these lusty scenes among the book's most vivid. In the end, the reader roots for Frank, who risks his life more than once to ensure Socorro's safe crossing, despite fears that she will track him down and divulge their affair to Frank's wife. Toma leaves a lot hanging at the end, and his detached narration grows weary. But Frank's story is worth reading if only for the lessons it imparts about honor, love, mortality and redemption. (Dec.)