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Border Crossing

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  1,233 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
Border Crossing is Pat Barker's unflinching novel of darkness, evil and society.

When Tom Seymour, a child psychologist, plunges into a river to save a young man from drowning, he unwittingly reopens a chapter from his past he'd hoped to forget. For Tom already knows Danny Miller. When Danny was ten Tom helped imprison him for the killing of an old woman. Now out of priso
Paperback, 281 pages
Published April 4th 2002 by Penguin (first published January 1st 2001)
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Regeneration by Pat BarkerThe Regeneration Trilogy by Pat BarkerThe Ghost Road by Pat BarkerThe Eye in the Door by Pat BarkerLife Class by Pat Barker
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7th out of 11 books — 7 voters
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Disturbingly Enticing
72nd out of 246 books — 102 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Rachel Brown
I read this because I loved Barker’s harrowing, gorgeously written, revelatory Regeneration trilogy, about shell-shocked soldiers in WWI. Having read Border Crossing… I highly recommend Regeneration.

Tom Seymour, a psychologist, is walking along the river with his soon-to-be-ex-wife when a young man leaps into the river. Tom jumps in and saves his life. And then discovers that the young man, Danny, was once a ten-year-old boy who had gone to prison for murder after Tom had examined him and testif
Shaun Ryan
Feb 17, 2012 Shaun Ryan rated it really liked it
Barker's prose is beautifully bleak, breathing life into her setting and characters while maintaining a sense of oppression, as though her fictional England and its people haven't seen the sun for months but manage to hope that at any moment it might break through the clouds.

A story of memories that we often allow to deceive us, buried trauma and the way it creates hidden pathologies, and our sometimes fatal attraction to darkness, Border Crossing showcases our ability and willingness to both ma
Jul 29, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
Shelves: keeper, bought-new
This was so intense, I was torn between wanting to read the whole thing at one sitting and needing to take a break just to get some mental breathing space. Yes, it was short, but it was so tight; not a word was wasted.

If it was adapted into a screenplay I could see it being the perfect vehicle for a young actor to really prove his acting chops as Danny/Ian in much the same way as Primal Fear was for Edward Norton (who was really the only good thing in the film but, oh, SO good). The source mater
Jessie McQuay
Oct 20, 2010 Jessie McQuay rated it it was ok
I read this about three years ago for an English class, so my memory of it is a little fuzzy at some points. However, I do remember being incredibly let down when I finished it. I think this is mainly due to the perspective it is told from. I could never quite comprehend if Danny was guilty or not, but looking back, that was probably the intention of the author given the narrator's point-of view. The ending kind of just...peters out and you're left with no real sense of resolve.
Aug 29, 2015 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Psychologist Tom Seymour is out walking with his semi-estranged wife Lauren along the Tyne riverside when ahead of them they see a young man try to commit suicide by swallowing a handful of pills and throwing himself into the water. Tom dives in and saves the man; Lauren summons the cops. They both reckon they recognize the supposed stranger: it's Danny Miller who, 13 years ago, Tom analyzed and evaluated during Danny's trial for the murder and mutilation of an old woman. Danny was aged just ten ...more
Oct 09, 2016 Cody rated it it was ok
I had such high hopes for this book. Back in April when I was on a female authors kick, I asked several bookworm friends who they recommended, and several said Pat Barker. Upon reading reviews online, I discovered Barker has been around since the '80s and is pretty popular -- at least in England. I checked book summaries of several of her novels and decided on Border Crossing, her 2001 novel that reminded me a bit of The Sixth Sense. I'm a fan of psychological study and recounts of childhood in ...more
Apr 04, 2015 Alyson rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this book. Although short it was an intense read and 'unputdownable'. When Lauren and Tom are out walking they come across an apparent suicide. The boy, Danny, however is known to Tom from a past case, when Tom appeared as an expert witness at Danny's trial. As Tom and Danny reconnect the story explores Danny's past and Tom's current states of mind. It appears initially that Danny intends harm towards Tom, whom he blames at least partly for his conviction. Tension is ...more
Diane S ☔
Jun 19, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
Shelves: roadrallyteamb
3.5 In clear, concise and straightforward prose, Barker gives us another psychological novel, this time about a possible child killer. Was the ten year old convicted of killing an 80 yr. old woman, or was he in fact innocent. This is something psychiatrist Tom Seymour must ascertain, not once but twice. The suspense in this book was amazing and the subject matter so fascinating. What makes a psychopath or sociopath? I also like that the ending is not all spelled out and some of it is left to the ...more
Jan 24, 2010 Felicity rated it it was ok
Recommended to Felicity by: School text.
Read this for my Year 12 English text. Didn't enjoy it like everyone else seemed to.
Nov 26, 2008 Karen rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio, contemporary
This had some interesting parts, but the way it just sort of trailed off left me disappointed.
Mike Harper
Oct 08, 2016 Mike Harper rated it really liked it
This isn't in a class with Barker's Regeneration trilogy, but it's a worthwhile short novel. The protagonist (Tom), a psychologist, saves a young man (Danny) from drowning and discovers that his testimony was an important factor in convicting then ten year old Danny of murder. Now out on parole and having assumed a new identity, Danny insists on forming a relationship with Tom, and the two of them explore the murder and Danny's motives.
Is Danny a dangerous psycho? Will he harm Tom? Can he find a
Apr 05, 2013 Micah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-books
My rating is closer to 3 stars -- I really liked Barker's writing style and enjoyed several elements of the book, and I'm a sucker for stories about people who are nearly psychopaths but don't want to be, so the Danny character was the element that worked best for me. But overall the novel felt like an early draft of something that could have been much better.

I am always hardest on books that I like but don't love, because I want to figure out why they didn't work for me. Thus, a review in whic
JS Found
Dec 24, 2013 JS Found rated it liked it
There be spoilers

Beautifully written but a feint. You think it's going to be the conventional story of a murderer psychologically worming his way into the life of the man who sent him to prison, so that he can enact his revenge. But late in this slim tale, that's not what happens. I don't know whether to be pleased Barker didn't complete the cliche or disappointed that she set it up so well as the cliche. Unfortunately, Barker didn't make her child murderer, now grown up, into a full person--he'
Triv S.
This was one of the many books I had to read for school this year and I was surprised to find that I didn't hate it. Towards the end I actually stayed up into the early hours of the morning to read what happened because I was so compelled. Too bad the ending was an anti-climax...

I guess there's always going to be a level of enjoyment when I initally thought this was literally about crossing borders. You know, refugees and stuff. I was so not looking forward to writing my six thousandth essay on
Anne Goodwin
Imagine you’re out for a walk one weekend and see a young man swallow handful of pills and jump into the river. Without thinking – or perhaps even as a distraction from the torment of your failing marriage – you strip off your heavy coat and plunge into the river to save him. Much later, after the ambulance has driven him away and you’ve sloughed off the river’s mud in a hot bath, you realise you’ve got the young man’s coat and, more to the point, he’s got yours, with a set of spare house keys ...more
Carolyn Thomas
Dec 30, 2012 Carolyn Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tom and Lauren are out walking along the deserted Newcastle waterfront one dismal grey afternoon when they suddenly notice a young man at the water's edge - a young man who appears to swallow a bottle of pills, and then throws himself into the icy current. Instinctively Tom jumps in to save him, drags him to shore, wraps him in a coat and calls for an ambulance. Although he feels a vague interest in the outcome, it isn't until he realizes he has wrapped the unknown man in his own coat that he ...more
Aug 16, 2008 Michele rated it liked it
I had to sit down after reading this book and seriously think about what the title meant because there aren't any obvious borders in the book.

There are lots of boundaries though, and I suppose a book called Crossing Boundaries would sound too sociological to be a novel, so she chose the word "border" instead. But it made me have to think long and hard about what the title meant.

I liked Barker's Regeneration and The Eye in the Door (still haven't read Ghost Road) but this novel is very different.
May 24, 2010 Callie rated it liked it
Pat Barker is one of my favorite writers, but this book didn't seem as strong to me as the others of hers that I have read. It's about a boy who kills an old woman when he is very young and then when he finally gets out of the institution he meets up with the shrink who helped put him away. The shrink being the one who attested that said boy knew (morally speaking) what he was doing when he killed the old woman. Sounds gory and depressing but I didn' find it so. Although I made certain I read ...more
Oct 13, 2012 zespri rated it really liked it
Pat Barker seems to enjoy exploring interesting and absorbing territory.

In this book she examines the mind and motives of a convicted killer, but this one just happens to be 10 years old. Danny has served his time and is back in society, but is not managing his life very well. He takes drastic action to become re-united with the child psychologist who made the original assessment of his mental condition after the murder.

Together, they start to unpick the circumstances that led to the killing, an
Feb 27, 2009 Anne rated it really liked it
A fairly short novel of just over 200 pages, but I found it extremely hard to put down. There are some really important issues addressed within the story - mainly centred on how and why a 10 year old child becomes a murderer. Can he be returned to society, can he live normally and will he ever face up to his crimes and can he avoid the media?

This is not a crime thriller, but is still a thrilling read. The relationship between Tom - the child psychologist and Danny, the young man recently release
Nov 12, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it
The novel is about a psychologist who, in the midst of his own divorce, meets up with a young man who he had evaluated and testified against years before.

The disintegration of the marriage feels so real that it was painful to read. Shadowed in the background was recent death the main character's father and a recurring image from a dream: love is a rabbit running among tombstones.

At the same time, he is dealing with this former quasi-patient. A corrosive personality who epitomizes the concept of
Dec 09, 2012 Cat. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
WOW!! What a great book! Not cut-and-dried "happily ever after" here; well, not exactly. The main character is a child psychologist whose testimony about the mental state of a boy sends him to prison for the murder of a neighbor. The boy was 10, but fast-forward to the beginning of this book--about a decade later?--and he's been released and given a new identity so as to re-enter society. Did he know what he was doing and was he responsible for his neighbor's death? Can a 10-year-old reason that ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Karine rated it really liked it
I only began reading Pat Barker fairly recently, despite having seen her books around for years. I started with Toby's Room and the Regeneration trilogy, fittingly reading these WW1 books in 2014, and have now decided to look at her other titles.
This book is rather bleak in premise with its intertwining topics of murderous children and the disintegrating marriage of a psychologist who specialises in treating troublesome children. But it is a truly engrossing read with good characterisation and a
Apr 15, 2012 Steve rated it liked it
This was quite a quick and easy read on a very difficult subject, about a 10 year old murderer reunited 15 years later with the psychologist whose evidence in court led to his conviction, exploring issues around motive, punishment and rehabilitation of the offender and the impact that the event had subsequently on the life of the expert witness.

Enjoyable, although at the end it did feel to me a bit rushed and incomplete, stopping some way short from the opportunity of being a page turning psycho
Jul 27, 2011 Emma rated it it was ok
Different to the Regeneration Trilogy in it's setting 'Border Crossing' explores similar themes in what it means to kill someone while drawing on her earlier novels as well. It raises important questions about the nature of good, evil and responsibility, when is a child old enough to understand the consequences of their actions? Although I was intrigued by the plot I struggled to relate to any of the characters, Tom seemed bland in many cases and Danny is an uncertain character, you're not sure ...more
Aug 16, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it
Mid 4. Barker’s insightful novel traces the relationship between Danny, a young man who was convicted for a murder he committed as a child, and Tom Seymour, the psychologist whose evidence was crucial to his sentencing. The author has provided the reader with an abused psychopath whose charm and guile mask a web of deceit and seduce those who come within his orbit. In bringing this pyromaniac back into contact with the individual who ascertained the level of consciousness behind his crime, ...more
Jun 03, 2013 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, psychology
I'm debating between rating this as a 4 vs 5-star book. A handful of themes from the novel that overlap with Regeneration" are are again explored through the lens of an nontraditional therapist-patient relationship.

Border Crossing reads much more like a psychological thriller vs the historical fiction approach of Regeneration series. The best parts of the earlier series are clearly evident in what makes for a faster-paced, somewhat sharper story.
Jun 11, 2012 Molly rated it it was amazing
This book is a wonderful examination of some of the very real difficulties and pitfalls of the care and rehabilitation of children in the criminal system. Sounds cheerful, doesn't it? Actually, it's increadibly readable.

It doesn't offer easy answers or wrap it up with a tidy bow at the end. It lays out the issues and puts them out there to dwell on, mull and discuss.

Everyone should read it!
Mar 27, 2007 Baine rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People with childhood issues, interest in psychology
Pat Barker is a terrific story teller and does a great job building characters and scenes. The dialogue is punchy and the plot moves at a nice clip, gripping. Her books seem to expose children's dark underside, and by inverting innocence and guilt pose fascinating moral questions. Like peeling away layers from an onion, Barker goes deep within the human experience, revealing meanings and emotions that, I think, are relevant to most people.
Jun 20, 2016 Barbara rated it really liked it
There is no war involved in this novel by Pat Barker, but as usual, her characters are very interesting and believable. This novel was more suspenseful than her other books that I have read. It involves a psychologist who specializes i n troubled children being reunited with and involved in an old case he testified on. I am not sure what I suspected the outcome would be, but it was very authentic..
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Pat Barker was born in Thornaby-on-Tees in 1943. She was educated at the London School of Economics and has been a teacher of history and politics.

Her books include the highly acclaimed Regeneration trilogy Regeneration ; The Eye in the Door , winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize; and The Ghost Road , winner of the Booker Prize; as well as seven other novels. Pat Barker is married and lives in
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