One mother's son is killed in a tragic accident; another's daughter murders two people in a wild rage. From these bitter facts, Beverly Lowry—the first child's mother and an acclaimed novelist—has fashioned a memoir in which the objectivity of true-crime reportage resonates with acute feeling and even, ultimately, with redemption.
In Houston, in the early morning hours of June 13, 1983, twenty-three-year-old Karla Faye Tucker showed up with two friends at the apartment of a man they hated, Jerry Lynn Dean. Fired by a lost weekend of drugs and bravado, during which their grievances against Jerry Lynn became magnified out of all proportion, they had it in mind to steal motorcycle parts. Maybe to scare him a little. But by the time they left, both Dean and his chance, one-night companion had been murdered with such thorough wickedness as to ensure Karla's place among the handful of young white women on Death Row in this country.
The next fall, outside of Austin, Beverly Lowry's son Peter, after an increasingly troubled adolescence, was back in high school and back living at home when he was killed—an unsolved hit-and-run. He was eighteen. The despair that descended into Lowry's life seemed without end, but eventually and almost inevitably she became obsessed by the beautiful young killer whose photograph she'd seen in a Houston newspaper. "If Peter hadn't been killed," she writes, "I would not have made that first trip up to see Karla Faye."
In Crossed Over, Beverly Lowry reveals how Tucker, a full-time addict and part-time prostitute, had been dealt this fate as a child—only to pursue it relentlessly herself in Houston's violent subculture of bikers and outlaws. Working backward from the murders, Lowry delves into character and motive, looking for reasons that might explain these unthinkable acts. But this is also an account of the unlikely and powerful friendship between a writer—a mother—coming to terms with her loss and a young woman who, even under the sentence of death, begins the life she'd never before had a chance to lead.
Crossed Over is a story of crime and punishment, but more importantly it explores the connection between grief and hope, and between different kinds of victims. In the end, what Beverly Lowry uncovers is the unexpected ability of life, however blighted the circumstances, to assert its best, most urgent claim upon us.