Undefended Borders


337 pages
ISBN 1-895629-46-2
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by June M. Blurton

June M. Blurton is a retired speech pathologist.


The year is 1969. David has just flunked out of university and must make
a choice between being drafted for service in Vietnam or enrolling in a
Bible College. He lives in Eagle Bluff, a small town on the Ohio River.
His mother is the preacher in a fundamentalist church where new members
are baptised in a huge aquarium. The townspeople are gently drawn
caricatures who know nothing of the outside world.

The arrival of Maggie, a Canadian, creates quite a stir. Employed at a
drop-in centre for black youths in Toronto, Maggie has come to Eagle
Bluff to trace the Ohio leg of the Underground Railroad used by escaping
black slaves. David and Maggie meet and fall in love, but this is not a
true romance. She and the runaway slaves of the last century personify
the pains and responsibilities of getting and keeping physical and
intellectual freedom.

The serious themes in this novel are cloaked in a hilarious story, told
in a series of flashbacks that are generally well managed. The
characters and situations are funny but believable, and the dialogue
sparkles. If the book has a flaw, it is that the abundance of people and
incidents tends to weaken the story’s focus. That said, Undefended
Borders is a thoroughly enjoyable read.


Long, Charles., “Undefended Borders,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 18, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/5152.