Crossing the Dark is a harrowing tale of abuse and loss, of innocence destroyed. Mona, a police officer, rescues her thirteen-year-old daughter, Perdita, from the man who abducted her and has been using her as a sex slave. After barely escaping with her mother from Cesar, Perdita is traumatized, achingly frail and unable to cope with the enormity of what has happened to her and the imminent threat to her person.
At least there is hope when Cesar is taken into custody, the promise of relief for the terrified girl. As a cop, Mona knows the rules of evidence collection and preservation. As a mother, her first concern when she finds her daughter is to get Perdita away from danger, even if it costs her own life. Now she is torn between the desire for revenge - to hunt the monster down and kill him - and the necessity to let the system do its job.
Barely kept in check by her partner, Nick, Mona misses days of work, attracting the notice of a less-than-sympathetic boss. As time goes on, it is clear that Mona cannot leave Perdita while she performs her duties as a cop. A therapist encourages Perdita’s return to normalcy as soon as possible, but this advice goes against Mona’s instincts: Perdita is still in grave danger, sleeping in a nest of blankets in her father’s closet pending Cesar’s incarceration: “Rescue is not the same as recovery.”
When the system fails the struggling teen - as of course it does - Mona is desperate to restore her daughter to her former innocence, aware that such a thing is impossible. Clinging to one another, mother and daughter navigate the treacherous landscape of despair, the grieving Mona feeling every blow to her daughter’s fragile dignity.
Boehringer writes a gripping novel that reaches into the heart of motherhood when a child is damaged by the world. The details of the story are harrowing, from the time Mona flees with her naked daughter through the night to safety to the arrogance of a monster who threatens to exact revenge on the terrified girl. While it is impossible to set aside, this raw, compelling story is painful, Perdita’s torment tangible, Mona’s rage and confusion palpable.
Not for the faint of heart, this novel does not flinch from reality, or the flaws of the legal system, or a cop whose instincts blur her ability to do her job. I don’t know if I would recommend this book, but I couldn’t put it down.