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Carry Me Like Water

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  285 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Beginning with Diego, a deaf-mute Mexican-American barely surviving on the border in El Paso, Texas, and progressing to the posh suburbs of San Francisco (where Diego's real sister, "Helen," has long ago abandoned him and her Chicano roots), Carry Me Like Water is an epic and immensely moving story that bluntly confronts divisions of race, gender, and class, fusing culture ...more
Paperback, 503 pages
Published July 28th 1996 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published July 1st 1995)
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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire SáenzCrossing Borders by Sergio TroncosoEverything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire SáenzDog Tacos by Terry McChesneyThe Last Tortilla by Sergio Troncoso
Books by El Paso Authors
27th out of 67 books — 16 voters
My Lady Love by Bridgitte LesleyWood, Talc and Mr. J by Chris   RoseSundays at Tiffany's by James PattersonA Veil of Glass and Rain by Petra MarchCurve My Song by Sarah Gai
Of Beautiful Relationships
80th out of 153 books — 48 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,372)
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Aug 01, 2013 Andune rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking. This novel got under my skin, and like life itself, moved me, annoyed me, humbled me, struck me, and changed me. I believe that to be human in this world is to be heartbroken, vulnerable and uncertain. And compassionate. To be truly human is to be compassionate. In this novel, Benjamin Alire Sáenz spoke to that.

I won't go through the blurb, in fact I don't really know if anyone will read this review, but if you are reading and are looking for something to take you on a journey th
Aug 11, 2008 Erin rated it liked it
This book really was and wasn't. I just don't know how to feel about it.

Simultaneously great and awful... I want to say the characters were well developed, but at the same time they weren't. Someone called it a soap opera, and it is, with this weird dash of the supernatural (for no good reason if you ask me). I almost gave up on it about 50 pages in, but at the same time, I just couldn't put it down.

My biggest complaint? The rampant use of the word "lovers" is almost more than I can handle. Ar
Jan 08, 2015 Lori rated it really liked it
The writing could have been a little more...nuanced? And it probably could have ended a few dozen pages earlier, but the story was good. I like magical realism, and I liked how there were a lot of moving parts that came together, different people who were unconnected but still connected. Overall, I liked it.
Nov 09, 2014 Brooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction, ebooks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 18, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book - no spoilers here - was one of the most fantastical, different books I've ever read. It had deep, dark depth, laughter with tears, and an overall fascinating look at the human condition. It is one I will most assuredly be reading again.
Sep 23, 2008 Katherine rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is my favorite book of all time!! I am planning on going and taking a class from him for my masters. An amazing book, intertwining lives in the most unique and overwhelming way.
Feb 14, 2008 Carol rated it it was amazing
This a a beautiful story which I am now rereading after 10 years. It is about love, forgiveness, acceptance with a little bit of mystic.
Robyn Yeary
Feb 10, 2016 Robyn Yeary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story within a story.

All in all, it is an amazing story, a commentary on life, on the issues that plague us today like border crossings, prejudice, AIDS, being Chicano, being gay, love, death and fear. The dialogue is crisp and interesting, each chapter seamlessly flows like the river into the next. It is poetic, which is not surprising considering Saenz is an eloquent Chicano poet. As in his other book, In Perfect Light, he has created a masterpiece of imagery, color and a unique and beautifu
Imagine a coy flirt at a bar. She's intriguing to people because she knows how to capture their attention, without having to surrender to blatant attention getting tactics, such as the party socialite. The same thing applies to magic realism. The minute these elements take over the novel, you can argue the book is no longer magic realist.

And that is unfortunately the main problem with Saenz's character, Lizzie, who is given a psychic gift. Her new abilities, at times, take over the story and be
Christian Renee Apodaca
Mar 14, 2014 Christian Renee Apodaca rated it it was amazing
This is one of my top 5 books. It has a bit of everthing I like in fiction: Spanish mysticism, race and gender issues, and at it's heart, a story of family. Family is as much created as you are born to. This is one of those stories that begin with seemingly unrelated characters, but in the end the characters lives intersect in the most logical, beautiful way. I completely love this story. This is the book/author I would want to write like if I had the talent. (And it's not a difficult read.)
Feb 01, 2014 Carole rated it it was amazing
This book was hard to get into because the first few chapters are sad. They were intriguing, too, so I kept reading "just a little more." I'm so glad I did! The characters and relationships are complex, annoying, delightful and sometimes fey. The plot tightens and resolves well. I LOVED this book.
John Treat
Aug 18, 2014 John Treat rated it it was ok
Predictable story line, but not irritatingly so. I doubted whether the author really understood Chicanos, women or homosexuals-- the book reads as if he studied them from afar, then tried to imagine what goes on in the inside. Didn't work for me.
Julie Bowerman
Dec 07, 2014 Julie Bowerman rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
I loved Last Night I Sang to the Monster and Aristotle and Dante, so I went back to this earlier novel from Benjamin Alire Saenz. I would have preferred fewer characters and a little less heavy-handed theme development.
Jul 09, 2014 Ana rated it really liked it
This book is absolutely beautiful!!!

Benjamin Saenz is so good at writing so poetically!!! I love how he tackles extremely harsh life problems with such beauty! He made me love my hometown El Paso!
A must read!
Aug 05, 2015 Jan rated it it was ok
I liked some of the characters so I continued to plod on through a book that was easily 200-300 pages longer than it needed to be. The "out-of-body" chick could have been left out altogether. Long slog.
Jun 07, 2015 Annemarie rated it really liked it
I didn't know about the magical realism aspect of this book until reading it, and after being quickly invested in the start of the book, the beginnings of the spirituality part almost turned me off. But, reading on, I found the imagery of the desert setting, the characters and the meeting of their cultures, and the pain of their loss during the AIDS epidemic all aided in what turned out to be the makings of a compelling, worthwhile read that will remain in my mind long after completing the book.
We divide time into years. We divide years into seasons. We have different names for every river, a different name for every ocean on the earth. But the river does not know that we have named it "river"—it does not know that it is separate from the waters that call "Come." Come.

The river has flowed a thousand years. [...] River, I have been gone a long time. I am returning to your waters. River, I've come back. River, I'm afraid.
Feb 08, 2016 Priscilla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has changed my outlook on life. It takes place in my hometown, El Paso, Tx. This book opened my eyes to some realities I never understood before. It taught me to get over myself and that it's time to learn compassion. The author never steers away from ugly realities but instead confronts them and the reader is better for it. Definitely a good read.
Sep 09, 2013 Sherree rated it really liked it
My husband read this book for a class, and when I read the back cover, it sounded like something I would want to read. For about the first 50 pages, I thought I was going to be wrong, but as I started to get into it, I became more and more caught up in the characters and the story. The writing in this book is beautiful. My only problem was there were so many interconnected people, I had trouble remembering everything.
Gigi Romano
Apr 15, 2013 Gigi Romano rated it liked it
Shelves: print-owned
It was pretty lackluster to be completely honest. I'm kind of upset that I spent so much time reading it. I liked a lot of themes and undertones that ran throughout the story, but I definitely could have lived on without reading it. It wasn't terrible though, and like I said there was a lot of good things to think about.
Jun 03, 2007 Leah rated it it was amazing
ok. so this book is basically a soap opera. yet it's written so well and...well, i just love it. i loved it the first time i read it and i loved it this second time and it's just a good book. it's magical realism, which i tend to enjoy anyway, but it's somehow much more grounded than a lot of that kind of stuff.
May 09, 2008 Lisa rated it liked it
When I started reading this book I wasn't sure if I'd like it or not. Parts of it were a little lame, but overall I enjoyed the story. It reminded me a little of a soap opera with some fantasy thrown in, but I liked some of the characters enough that it was an enjoyable read.
Ellen Black
Mar 23, 2009 Ellen Black rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book by accident - I'd not heard anything about it. But, I loved this book. It's on my list of Favorites. Beautiful story about people searching - sometimes finding what they were searching for, sometimes being surprised by what they found. Beautifully written.
Feb 10, 2009 Dana rated it it was amazing
This is my all time favorite book! I've read it countless times and every time I find something new to love about it. Saenz has the most beautiful way with words! I cannot recommend this book highly enough! Please give it a chance!
Christina Thompson
Great book that encompasses lots of sectors of society and the battleground of Juarez, Mexico. Lots of social issues including homosexual, ethnic identity, handicaps, spousal/family relationships, illness, and love. Loved it!
Jul 18, 2012 Vonda rated it it was amazing
I read this years ago and honestly can't remember much about it! But I know I looooooved it! I loved the characters and how they all connected. There was so much depth and feeling. I want to read it again sometime.
Apr 02, 2013 Becky rated it really liked it
I really love this author and am so glad I found his works. This book has a bit if magical realism, lots of death and sadness, but ultimately is about life, hope, love and redemption.
Apr 17, 2012 Nadine rated it liked it
This was a fairly 'quick read', a bit of a contrived story, with a happily ever after ending. The ebook edition is rife with typos. Who proof-reads these things?
Jun 29, 2014 Scott rated it liked it
A great read up until the end when everyone started to become a little bit too reflective on defining their and how to define their own immortality...
Jun 15, 2008 Carmen rated it it was amazing
Beautiful touching book that I have read several times. It about all these different people and how they come together. I strongly suggest you read this.
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Benjamin Alire Sáenz (born 16 August 1954) is an award-winning American poet, novelist and writer of children's books.

He was born at Old Picacho, New Mexico, the fourth of seven children, and was raised on a small farm near Mesilla, New Mexico. He graduated from Las Cruces High School in 1972. That fall, he entered St. Thomas Seminary in Denver, Colorado where he received a B.A. degree in Humaniti
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