BORDER LINES by Caroline Kraus


A Memoir
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Disturbing first-person account of one young woman’s emotional captivity by another.

Kraus was 23, grieving for her mother who had just died of cancer, and alone in a new city when she met Jane, a pretty, amusing young woman who seemed to offer empathy and camaraderie. Both worked at a bookstore in San Francisco, where Kraus, a recent college graduate from the Midwest, was planning to study screenwriting at Stanford. Within short order, the co-workers became fast friends and then roommates and then more. Gradually, Kraus’s life was taken over by Jane, her plans for graduate work put aside. Jane, manipulative and seductive, alternating between sweetness and cruelty, seemed to need Kraus’s love and support, and Kraus gave both generously. The inheritance her mother left her was wiped out and credit-card debt mounted as Kraus willingly supported them both. While the author’s father, brother, and sister became alarmed by the unhealthy relationship developing between the two women, and her psychiatrist tried to open her eyes to the source of her need for Jane, the warning signs that Jane was bad news passed by Kraus undetected. Promiscuity, shoplifting, stealing cash at work, gratuitous lies, emotional blackmail, and physical violence were par for the course for Jane, yet through the strife, Kraus says, were times of great happiness, affection, sharing, and fun. It was only when Kraus heard an NPR documentary on borderline personality disorder that she recognized that she had become deeply entangled with a seriously disturbed individual and that she herself was slipping into Jane’s world. Once able to see Jane clearly, Kraus made her escape, fleeing San Francisco. That her freedom was only temporary is a shock, for Jane was welcomed back when she reappeared in Kraus’s life a couple of years later. When they parted for the second time, it was because, Kraus says, she had learned to value her own needs over Jane’s.

A vivid portrait of a complex relationship, as gripping, at times, as a good thriller.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7679-1403-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Broadway
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2003