Patrick's Reviews > The Dive from Clausen's Pier

The Dive from Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer
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May 25, 2012

it was amazing
Read from May 25 to 31, 2012

** spoiler alert ** I give this book 5 stars because of the strong negative emotion that it evoked in me. Unfortunately duty to her small town relationships overtook her desire for personal growth. Although I would have probably done the same way thing as she did, I know what I want and I am fully formed while she is just beginning with her journey and is unfortunately cut short in her progress. I guess I would be more supportive of her staying if she is fully formed not still trying to define what she wants. I mean instead of pursuing her destiny she decides to stay for the sake of her friendship with Mike and Jaime and what about her needs? I hope that if Carrie does decide to marry Mike or if he asks if their was anyone else, she will be honest with him and tell him about Kilroy. I do not think she is obligated to tell him without him asking as they are merely friends right now and she can technically date who ever she wants.

I should like this book because it deals with duty to relationships vs personal individual growth. Carrie is a good girl who feels guilty for the fact she wants to break away from her past into a new future. Although it is uncertain, Carrie vacillates between Madison and the security of her past with Mike as its center point and her future in NYC and the mysterious but moody Kilroy.

Carrie is a girl who is restless and wants out of her small town existence when her long-term fiancee suddenly faces a life changing accident. The question here is does she have a duty to stay and tough it out for the sake of her relationship of someone she still loves but is no longer in love with and for all her relationships in general or does she have duty to herself in order to grow as a person first and foremost.

I do like the flashback that Carrie has on how her and Mike's relationship first started and what attracted her to him in the first place. It seemed the initial attraction was that Mike was a shy wholesome kid with a nice stable family life. I also like the quote that memory is part movie part dream in which one does not know which is made up and which is real.

Although Carrie wonders why she has fallen out of love with Mike when she was so happy with him in Chicago during their engagement, I think the genesis of her unhappiness is staying in Madison where she has grown up all her life. She is not happy with the stasis in her life and the fact that she has not found a vocation in which she can dedicate her life towards aggravates the feeling of stasis and thus falling out of love with Mike. For Carrie's moms part, she does not want her daughter to marry at a young age because of her own experiences with marrying young. So the issue is while Mike has stopped growing, Carrie continues to grow and is unhappy with the stasis that her engagement to Mike has now brought her. One thing is clear is that Carrie still loves Mike but does not want her life to be stuck.

Mike for his part is an easy going guy who loves being in control of his destiny and now that is not possible he is self-destructing under the care of his therapist and doctors and family members.

The problem with small towns is if you want to be alone you cannot. People will constantly pester you for what is wrong when nothing is wrong you just want to be left alone. Also it sucks when people know your business the whole time you are in a small town. It is the only place where your best friend can be jealous because you are embarking on a life separate from her. Another problem is that one cannot be left alone in small towns.


PART II : Carrie finally realizes that she needs out of her relationship with Mike and Madison so she drives to NYC and crashes at her gay friends place. She the pursues Kilroy who with his mysterious sarcastic personality manages to show her all that NYC has to offer plus a little amazing fcking on the side. I love the description of her wanting Kilroy like someone wanting to breath oxygen and cannot get enough of it. I think the instantaneous chemistry that Carrie has with Kilroy is the fact that it is new and wild and so unlike her. For Carrie, Kilroy is an escape for midwestern life. Kilroy for his part realizes the emotion she is feeling for what it is a great holiday from the stresses of her real life. Will Carrie catch on? Carrie still feels guilty about leaving Mike and Madison. If I were I would try to make NYC move work for a couple of years with limited contact with the past so she can move on with her life!!!

I like how Carrie is beginning to discover fashion as a natural outlet to her desire to sew and create clothing. The idea of creating clothing out of nothing for her is the idea of transformation that she is now undergoing in NYC. In NYC, Carrie also discovers homosexuals as friends which is great for her. Incidentally, it was Simon who guided her toward fashion as possible career; her calling.

Carrie is psychoanalyzing herself in blaming her absentee father for her lack of loyalty to her relationship in Madison when the answer is that she needs to live life independently of where she grew up.

Unfortunately, Kilroy is turning out to be another rich trust-fund baby whose privilege upbringing has made him directionless. More than any other thing these clueless heirs of millions and billions makes me want to back the estate tax as perhaps to subsidize disadvantage children who are promising enough to go to college. Carrie is attracted to the fact that Kilroy is a mystery to her as Mike was an open book to her. Kilroy is a sarcastic character who says provocative things that makes Carrie think. It unsettles Carrie that Kilroy is a 40 year old drifter without a place to put down roots. To his benefit, Kilroy says he loves Carrie. Kilroy is a nihilist and could hold Carrie back from her destiny. If Kilroy does stop her from self-realization, Carrie needs to move on. Kilroy already did his job by opening her up and broadening her horizons by sharing NYC and its wonders to her. Kilroy does keep the relationship fresh by leading Carrie towards new experiences.

The difference between her relationship with Mike and her relationship with Kilroy is the difference between small town vs big city relationships. Whereas Mike and Madison is overly familiar and open with no demarcation between private and public lives, her relationship with Kilroy represents constant wondering of the newness and adventuresome wonder that comes from living in a big city. Kilroy compartmentalize his life in order to separate his family life with his relationship with Carrie. What frustrates her about Kilroy and his secretiveness is also what attracts her to him.

As an extension between big city and small town differences is the friendships. In small town, Madison, Jaime expects Carrie to always be there present with her through thick and thin whereas Lane and Carrie do not have to be with each other 24/7 in order to know that they can trust each other. Perhaps this is the reason I did not thrive in Galveston because I prefer big city friendships that is I prefer to know who my friends are but I do not want to be constantly tied to them which in small towns one must or else they do not consider you friends anymore.

Carrie's mother makes an interesting observation... Your actions do not define who you are that is your actions is independent of who you are as a person. To what degree is that a correct assessment?

Another interesting comment is that family is the enemy of art vs family is the inspiration for once art...


Part III:

I think Packer does a good job keeping the suspense up and being true to Carrie's character of her duty to her small town relationships vs.
her individual wants and needs.

I think that Packer does a good job writing about what a man is recently disabled would feel. A guy who is disabled later in life would hate to be pitied by loved ones and especially his fiancee because in his mind he was still normal and there is a dissonance between what is in his mind and what is physically true. Mike also wants to know that Carrie truly wants to be by his side not for pity sake but because that is who she is.... That is, Mike wants to know that Carrie stays for the right reasons. Mike is correct in pointing out that disability just is with no good reason for it or perhaps cure. One just can either have faith that everything will turn out for the best or if one is an atheist/agnostic commit suicide. I like how Mike is protective over Carrie despite his disability.

It turns out that Jaime was not malingering and not only was Lynn sexually assaulted but Mrs. Fletcher had a nervous breakdown. So predictably, Carrie goes home. Mrs. Fletcher is a control-freak/worrier that almost succeeded in committing suicide because what she feared came true and happened to Lynn. The great thing about small towns is that people will rally to you when there is something that has happened to you. But at the same time if you are a private person, small towns can be bad because a person wants to look happy all the time until they are about to fall into a precipice.

I hope that Carrie does the right thing for herself in the end and continue her life in NYC and her relationship with Kilroy until its natural conclusion. She should remain friends with Mike and tell Kilroy that she is friends with Mike and will continue to correspond with him. Kilroy should not view a quadriplegic Mike as a threat. If he does, then he has issues and if I were Carrie I would still write Mike. I have a hard time imagining how anyone can be happy and fully give oneself until they are happy internally with how their life is going at the moment.

I like how Kilroy says to Carrie that she wants her to be herself and since she is loyal he wants her to stay in Madison to resolve her relationship issues at home. I understand why Kilroy likes Carrie because he wished his parents did not give up on his brother Mike, leukemia, and did not move forward with their life. In Carrie, Kilroy sees his best self as a person with meaning and loyalty to others he cares about; thus, he understands why Carrie chooses to stay back at home rather than be with him.

Despite America being the most socially mobile country on earth, few people ever go up the social mobile scale because of gravitational inertia that holds us back. Carrie is the perfect example of this despite her desire to move forward in her life and to grow personally via education that she loves and a fulfilling relationship in another city, she stays because her relationships demand it. Thus, a strong sense of community with friends can keep a person from growing individually. I guess I do not understand this self-limiting behavior because I never had a strong sense of community growing up and the people I did associate with growing up all wanted to leave to pursue their own lives.

I think this book will point to the importance of inculcating your kid with your values and then letting her leave to explore the world be it through a job that takes her away from the place where he/she grows up or college in order to make them independent and only when they become a self-sustaining individual do you welcome them back home. I also think it is important to stack your kids with your values as a default. For example, giving them a religious education as a background but later if you want your kids to move out and become independent, you need to send them to a school in which the kids expect to leave for college or a career instead of staying near. That is, one needs to stack ones values as their default.

Carrie adequately points out the reason people do not choose to walk in small towns/suburbs and it is because there is nothing to see making the walk feel potentially longer than it actually is.


I like the quote that brings to question if our personality is an acumilations of previous experiences or do we continuously reinvent ourselves.
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