Literary Nonfiction: Beverly Lowry

crossed overCROSSED OVER: A MURDER, A MEMOIR Written by Beverly Lowry

1992 (reissued in 2002); 272 Pages (Knopf Doubleday/ Vintage)
Genre: literary nonfiction, true crime
RATING: 3.5 STARS

In 2002, I watched a “based on true events” TV movie, starring Diane Keaton and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The title of the movie, Crossed Over was also the title of the book this movie was based on. Of course, then I had to read the book. Crossed Over is what I would call a memoir of violence. Beverly Lowry loses her son in a hit-and-run accident, and tries to process the grief and move forward with her life. During this process she comes across an article about Karla Faye Tucker, a murderer that committed her crimes with a pick-axe. Now on death row, Tucker was going through a spirituality process and seeing the errors of her way. If executed, Tucker was to be the first woman to be executed in Texas since the 1800s. Lowry drawn to this case met with the killer and continued to visit for several years.

crossed over 2As Lowry begins to explore violence and what drives people to do what they do, we begin to see Lowry change. She starts off angry and confused and soon moves to compassion and purpose. We see Tucker through Lowry’s eyes and with what Karla herself says and facts from the case. If you are looking for definitive answers, you may wish to pass on this one. It is not your traditional true crime book as the facts are not the main focus, but I like that about this book. I also liked that it made me think a lot about compassion and forgiveness. It reminded me a bit of Dead Man Walking (by Sister Helen Prejean) in that way. If you can take the subject matter I would recommend this book.

yogurt shop murdersWHO KILLED THESE GIRLS? THE TWENTY-FIVE-YEAR HISTORY OF AUSTIN’S YOGURT SHOP MURDER Written by Beverly Lowry

2016; 377 Pages (Knopf)
Genre: literary nonfiction, true crime, history
RATING: 3 STARS

Since I enjoyed Lowry’s previous book, Crossed Over, I was so happy to see that the library had her newest book, Who Killed These Girls?  I have also been following this case on 48 Hours: Mystery so I was interested to see what Lowry’s thought in the case were.

The Case:
Four young teens, two being sisters and one girl was just 13, were brutally murdered and then set on fire.  This took place in Austin, Texas in 1991.  The brutality of the crime shook Austin, but the young ages of the victims just about broke everyone on the case.  While this case has continually been active, no one has been convicted as of yet.  Lowry provides the entirety of the case from 1991 to present day.  We learn about the victims, the families, the investigators and the suspects.

The Verdict:
Maybe I already know too much about this case but I found it too dense and stretched out.  I think this book could have been better edited – at least a hundred pages less.  Lowry’s past book was more about the people and the emotions.  In this book, we get more facts and descriptions.  Lowry still has that literary style of writing that aided me in finishing the book.  I almost gave up halfway through because I was finding myself skimming some pages that seemed redundant.  Still, I did find the book interesting as I wanted to know more about this case.  I do hope this case gets solved someday…those girls deserve at least that.

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