It's Day 3 of the 2015 A-to-Z Challenge!
At the end of every month and on Favorite Things Friday (my normal Friday blog), I participate in another blog-hop featuring my favorite book of the month. I'll stilll do that this month, but I may feature some of my all-time favorites during the A to Z Challenge.
I studied at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and was fortunate enough to obtain my MFA in Creative Writing under the instruction of some wonderful professors. One of them was Beverly Lowry, the author of Crossed Over, her memoir highlighting her friendship with Texas death row inmate, Karla Faye Tucker.
The memoir recounts Lowry's relationship with her troubled son, Peter, who was just getting his life back on track when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 1984. Coming to terms with this loss, Lowry sees a newspaper article about this young girl, Karla Faye Tucker, and her imminent execution, and something about her eyes reminds her of her lost son. Lowry decides to visit Tucker in prison.
Some of you may remember the Karla Faye Tucker case from 1983 when Tucker and her boyfriend brutally murdered two people with a pickaxe while in a drug-induced frenzy. The news media reported Tucker as saying that she was turned on while murdering her victims, thus painting her as the worst kind of twisted monster. Incarcerated and free from the influence of drugs, Karla Faye Tucker became a Christian and a model prisoner. It was after this time that Lowry met her.
The narrative of Crossed Over spans several years as Lowry returns again and again to the prison to see Tucker, at first to interview her and then to visit with her out of a genuine respect and heartfelt connection. Tucker freely tells the story of a childhood in which her mother was a prostitute and drug-addict and Tucker herself followed suit. Despite the horrors of Tucker's crime, Lowry is inexplicably drawn to this young woman and firmly believes that her religious conversion is real.
This is where I had the privilege of hearing from the author first-hand, as she explained how she struggled with Karla Faye's attempts to witness to her about Jesus. Lowry freely admitted that she was not a Bible-believing Christian, but she could tell that Karla Faye genuinely believed and was changed by that belief. "I had to deal with my struggle on the page," she told our class.
In 2002, the memoir was made into a made-for-television movie starring Diane Keaton as Beverly Lowry and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Karla Faye Tucker. As you can imagine, the movie takes a lot of liberties and creates its own spin on the relationship which is much more dramatic than it in reality.
Beverly Lowry's memoir shows great compassion and honesty. She loved Karla Faye Tucker like a daughter, although she never completely understood her spiritual transformation. Crossed Over is mostly a true-crime read, but it is also a story of redemption, transformation, and healing.