Darlene's Reviews > Carry the One

Carry the One by Carol Anshaw
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's review
Mar 21, 2012

it was amazing
Read from March 16 to 21, 2012

... "Like in arithmetic. Because of the accident, we're not just separate numbers. When you add us up, you always have to carry the one."

This book begins with a wedding and the wedding is followed immediately by a death... the death of a nine year old girl. After the wedding reception of Carmen and Matt ends, Carmen's siblings Alice and Nick, Nick's girlfriend Olivia, Matt's sister (and Alice's sometime girlfriend) Maude pile into a car to drive back to the city. It is a warm and foggy night and everyone in the car is in various stages of intoxication. Olivia is driving the car and suddenly a young girl appears out of nowhere... the first the occupants of the car see her is when her face is pressed against the windshield. The death of this nine year old girl is at the center of this very moving and very complicated story.

This book follows Carmen and her siblings and the other occupants of the car through the next 25 years of their lives... through all the normal milestones which happen in life... becoming a parent, careers, love affairs and divorce. But what makes this story unique is the thing which forever binds these characters together.... the death of that little girl, how each of them carry her with them throughout their lives... who she might have become and what she might have become... and the guilt they all feel over ending her life before it really began. The reader follows each character through these 25 years, seeing how uniquely each character deals with the guilt. Carmen becomes a social activist and works in a women's shelter, Alice (Carmen's sister) is a painter and feverishly paints this little girl at various stages of the life she never got to have, Nick(Carmen's brother), well, he just can't get stoned enough to assuage his guilt. Each character, in his/her way is looking for atonement and redemption. I'm not sure these characters ever really find what they are looking for... perhaps it doesn't exist. The story encouraged me to think about the way human beings feel guilt and the very complex ways we go about trying to make things right. As Nick said to Alice...."I think we altered what was supposed to happen. And we can't go back and make it happen right. So we're stuck in some kind of endless loop trying to improve the past. Which, as you might notice, is resistant to revision."

Author Carol Anshaw has created a gripping story with incredible psychological insight into her very flawed, yet completely sympathetic characters. I highly recommend this book!

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