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Carry the Sky

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4.11  ·  Rating details ·  81 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
Kate Gray takes an unblinking look at bullying in her debut novel, Carry the Sky. It’s 1983 at an elite Delaware boarding school. Taylor Alta, the new rowing coach, arrives reeling from the death of the woman she loved. Physics teacher Jack Song, the only Asian American on campus, struggles with his personal code of honor when he gets too close to a student. These two youn ...more
Paperback, 318 pages
Published September 1st 2014 by Forest Avenue Press (first published August 19th 2014)
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Nicole
What happens when a poet writes a novel? A different crash of words than I've ever experienced before, and now I'm fresh and raw after the reading's done and how to talk about it?

Maybe like this:
Starting this book is not like starting a book. The words are weighted, musical, all of them waiting for some other shoe to drop. We meet characters, feel their moments like shutters opening for just that long before being snapped shut again.
Somehow, maybe a quarter of the way through the book? Maybe a
...more
Karen
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Kate Gray's debut novel, Carry the Sky, holds what's best about both fiction and poetry. (Makes sense, since Gray is an established poet, a writing teacher, and a passionate advocate for those who have stories to tell.) Compellingly crafted with alternating points of view, Carry the Sky, like any great poem, can be read at the level of the line on the page, relished for the rhythm, texture, and sounds of the words. And I did read the novel in this way, taking my time, returning to reread particu ...more
Karelia Stetz-Waters
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful, lyrical book, almost a prose poem in its careful use of language. I enjoyed it as much for the writing as for the story; both were excellent. Many times I felt myself slowing down to savor a sentence or reread a passage. Now that I am done, the images from the story stay with me as though I had been there. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who appreciates craft in writing.
Julene
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: educators, everyone
Shelves: fiction
This is a remarkable, exquisitely written book by Dangerous Writer Kate Gray. I had the privilege to study fiction and poetry with Kate in the early 2000s and I know how brilliantly she uses sound in her writing. She hears and understands the importance of how letters breathe, how they hit the ear. This book is a long breath.

She writes from the perspective of two main characters: Taylor Alta & Jack Song. The setting is a private school in the northeast. Taylor teaches English & Geography
...more
Gail Jeidy
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fresh-faced teacher and rowing coach smacked with tremendous loss in her first days on the job at an East Coast boarding school struggles to mentor teens whose troubles, possibly, trump her own. Gray’s voice is absolutely fresh. Her writing reads as poetry, often metaphoric and, at times, a bit obscure, which has a cumulative (and likely intended) effect of nudging the reader to relinquish control of the page and let the words wash over and envelop you in this ride. The result is deep feeling, ...more
Debbie Blicher
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, glbt
This novel is a marvelous example of what happens when a gifted poet writes fiction. Gray's intense, spare sentences convey emotion viscerally. Voice, rather than plot, carries this novel. Also noteworthy: much of the description is kinesthetic rather than visual; a very unusual sensory mode for prose. I won't give away the plot except to say that we encounter the results of bullying in both a child character and an adult character. Five stars for voice and character and setting; four for plot. ...more
Doug
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’ve never met characters as sharply drawn, lyrically portrayed and endearingly idiosyncratic as the four – Taylor and Jack, Carla and Kyle – we meet in these pages. As I came to the end of this book, I wanted to go hunt them down, put my arm around them, and tell them I loved them. I guess I’ll have to settle for knowing that the author loves them – that’s the secret of this book, I think, and the reason she is able to bring an aura of such mystery and enchantment to the most ordinary daily enc ...more
Reader Woman
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, lyrical, full of tough and important questions with only a few answers. I can't say enough about how well written this is, and what she does with the language - I can hardly even draw quotes from the book, in spite of its beauty, because she is planting phrases and words and images that she cultivates throughout and revisits with different nuance - so it's not about quotes, it's about a relationship to the metaphors and the imagery, and pulling a phrase out almost does a disservice be ...more
Jen May
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My mom's cousin wrote this very thought provoking book. She wrote it after witnessing bullying among students at a boarding school where she taught. She also used the book as a conduit to try to heal from a devastating personal loss of a woman she loved. Excellent writer. Really enjoyed it.
Patricia O'reilly
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There's not a character in this beautifully told story you won't care about. It will break your heart in sad and happy ways. Thank you for sharing it with us, Kate. One senses you've honored several people by writing it; readers will feel that deeply--just beautiful.
Sarah Cypher
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
In her debut novel, award-winning poet Kate Gray breaks the surface of a calm New England boarding school to tell a breathtaking tale about honor, violence, and responsibility.

Set in 1983, in the days after Taylor Alta loses her best friend and beloved to a rowing accident, she arrives at St. Timothy's as its girls crew coach, grieving and unprepared for the curiosity of eighteen-year-old Carla. Carla's interest is uncomfortable and hyper-sexualizated, a behavior rooted in her dark history. It’
...more
Cheryl pdx
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The first time I fell in love with a novel written by a poet, it was Elizabeth Rosner's "The Speed of Light". The way language and sounds and images were crafted was so different from the zillions of novels I had read. I was hooked. Kate Gray's "Carry the Sky" shares that first language of poetry: the pace of this debut novel is quieter, the voices of the central characters are closer and more intimate, and the images she paints are somehow both distilled yet expansive.

As I read Carry the Sky I
...more
Nancy Slavin
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Carry the Sky is unique in that it's a book about young adults, but the narrators are actual adults and the novel is for adult readers. The uniqueness is in the structure, alternating narratives, and the narrative voices are not cute or meta or self-conscious, thank goodness, even though the characters are flawed like characters should be.

The story is about two teachers, one new and one an old-timer, both with secrets and inabilities to discuss those secrets. Their heaviness affects their relat
...more
Elena
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I consider myself among the lucky few who had an opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. I was quite amazed by the beauty of the language. Simply put, it is very well written in the most capable hands of its writer, Kate Gray, who is obviously a poet first. The book is set in the early 80's, in a boarding school set in the mid Atlantic. The main characters have much in common though they differ greatly. They struggle to make their place at the school while concurrently struggling to ma ...more
Adrienne
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book is both a prose poem and an urgent story that unwinds the ways that hearts break beyond repair and yet are mended. But again, it's wiser and more complex than that.

As I wrote to the author, when I finished this book, I spent a long time just looking out the window at the trees. Something shifted in me. Something about childhood abuse and water and birds. Something about loss and longing and confusion and despair. Something about courage and endurance and making it through it all.

Utterl
...more
Ali
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
This ambitious book combines a poetic style with themes of mourning, bullying, unrequited love and otherness. It's a beautiful story that had me deeply immersed in the claustrophobic and often xenophobic world of a boarding school, circa 1983. If you like to be challenged in your reading, and you like to savor beautiful language while you experience a story, this is the book for you.
Nic Luna
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I have been keeping an eye on Forest Avenue Press, and I eagerly awaited their release of Carry the Sky. The setting alone intruiged me for its offer of insight and humor, a boarding school. But Gray also uses place to shed light on the important issue of bullying. Heavy topics are balanced with enjoyable characters. The novel is an easy and pleasurable read.
Beverly Moser
Kate Gray's writing style takes you inside the characters to the point where you know them and feel like you know the pathos that drives them. Kate is a master of language and uses it to spin a complex tale of loss, gain, and the manner in which this forms the perspectives and directions of a "life".
Marcia Chapman
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was incredibly genuine. I immediately connected with the characters and found the things that happened to them to be very believable.

It took a little to get used to her writing style but in the end I found it added very much to the book.
Laura Harrison
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a very unique and remarkable book. My store is doing an upcoming bookfair on bullying. I will be recommending this title highly. It is a wonderful book for discussion and really stays with you long after its conclusion.
Stuart A.
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very well written. It has a sense of A Separate Peace and/or other prep school novels, but the issues it is tackling are more varied and, ultimately, more important. Issues aside, though, the story itself is swiftly and artfully told and extremely compelling.
Laurie's Lit Picks
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Poignant story that is so well written - impressive debut novel!
Madison
A poet writes a novel and out comes character- and language-driven Carry the Sky. I want to push this book at everyone I know along with a box of tissues.
Tara
Dec 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So proud to know Kate. What a terrific, lyrical book. Great characters and story.
E.P.
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jack Song is the only non-white faculty member at a boarding prep school in Delaware, grieving for the death of his sister. Taylor Alta, the newest hire, is a closeted lesbian grieving for the death of her best friend, who had been afraid to return her love. Their stories intertwine as they deal with bullying and student suicide at the school.

Although the subject matter of this book is dark, encompassing racism, sexism, homophobia, bullying, sexual abuse, and teen suicide--in short, all the thin
...more
K
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes a writer is able to take you so deep into an experience that you feel as if the hurt and love and loss were your own. You know the characters so deeply and completely that you forget they aren’t your own friends and lovers— or a boy down the hall you can save from pain. And when that writer is a poet, the beauty of the language itself could destroy you. But in the end you are returned safely to your own life, with a slightly bruised but softer heart, grateful for the reminder to be kin ...more
SmallPressPicks
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Kate Gray’s writing about grieving is powerful not only because of the beauty of her language but also because of the intensely physical nature of it. What affected me even more, though, were the questions the novel raises about how best to face the pain of loss, both in ourselves and in others close to us: What are our responsibilities and what are our limits? Is there any such thing as a “healing process”? Or is it all just a matter of holding on in the hopes that the turbulence will, at some ...more
E.V. Legters
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Kate Gray is a poet. Her lyrical vision comes through on every page, in every description, not only of the landscape, and of the rowing teams' precise and rhythmic movements -- a sport Gray knows very well -- but of the state of hearts and minds in the aftermath of tragedy. On the surface, at the very beginning, it seems to be a fairly simple tale of heartbreak, but hang on as Gray adds layer upon layer.
Tara Bates
The format and voice of this book is very different. I liked it but the subject matter is disturbing. Also these teachers are awful and have zero boundaries! 38 in my 2015 ultimate reading challenge "a book set in high school"
Kim Hooper
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Kate Gray's prose reads like poetry. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking, tender story.
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Kate Gray's debut novel, Carry the Sky, has just launched Sept. 1, 2014. Now after more than 20 years teaching at a community college in Oregon, Kate tends her students’ stories. Her first full-length book of poems, Another Sunset We Survive (2007) was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and followed chapbooks, Bone-Knowing (2006), winner of the Gertrude Press Poetry Prize and Where She Goes (200 ...more
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