BWT (Belen)'s Reviews > Carry the Ocean

Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan
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it was amazing
bookshelves: favorites, gay-book-reviews, mm-favorites, mm-fiction, 2015, 2017, 2016, 5-stars-for-real, audiobook
Read 6 times. Last read January 31, 2019 to February 2, 2019.

Updated 06/01/2017 for Audiobook narrated by Iggy Toma.

I was really impressed with Iggy Toma's performance. I thought he did a good job portraying Emmet's ("almost robotic") and Jeremey's (sometimes anxious) particular tones of voice.

I loved the audio. Sure, it's definitely an extension of the love I feel for this story (which topped my faves of 2015 and remains one of my favorites of all time), but I think even if you hadn't read the story and only listened this still completely works.

I was a little worried because there is a lot of texting in the story, but Toma handles it all organically and brilliantly.

This is a terrific love story about finding acceptance in (sometimes) the most unlikely places. I love this story even more with the narration.

If you were on the fence about it? Don't be! Absolutely recommended!

Audio review has been cross-posted at Gay Book Reviews.


Emmet David Washington is nineteen, a genius, a sophomore at Iowa State University studying computer science and applied physics, is good with computers and anything to do with math, loves puzzles and The Blues Brothers, is gay, and has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It’s not even close to the most important thing about him. He functions well (most of the time) and has tons of help and support from his wonderful family.

Frankly, I’m awesome, and anybody who doesn’t agree should get out of my way.

Jeremey Samson is eighteen, just graduated from high school, and suffers (and he does suffer) from major depressive disorder and clinical anxiety, having major panic attacks when overwhelmed in public, and does not have the support of a wonderful family. His mother and father are, in my opinion, terrible people who constantly try to bully and shove Jeremey into a cookie cutter image of what a “normal” kid should be.

"No one is normal. Normal is a lie."

The story starts from Emmet’s POV, after Emmet sees Jeremey and knows Jeremey is meant to be his boyfriend (and because EMMET IS AWESOME, he makes it happen), then continues perfectly in alternating POV’s.

Emmet was beautifully described, represented and fleshed out as a character…all bold colors and vibrancy. In sharp contrast, Jeremey, just as beautifully described and represented as a character, often times felt sepia toned, washed out, with only short bursts of brightness and color, that would often quickly fade away again.

(view spoiler)

Heidi Cullinan does a masterful job in bringing these characters, and the others in the story (the families, the other residents at The Roosevelt), to life. The story is inspiring, heartbreaking, uplifting, sad, happy, funny, and then happy again. It was an ebb and flow of emotional tides that left me wanting more, but made me so happy I was left with a hard-won and wonderful HEA.

Friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.


This review has been cross-posted at Gay Book Reviews.
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Reading Progress

October 10, 2014 – Shelved
October 10, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
April 8, 2015 – Started Reading
April 8, 2015 –
10.0% "Had to stop after lunch and for drive home. I'm delving back's so good so far!"
April 8, 2015 –
1.0% "He was quiet online, which is smart but makes it hard to learn about someone you’re too shy to say hello to in person."
April 8, 2015 –
1.0% "Frankly, I’m awesome, and anybody who doesn’t agree should get out of my way."
April 8, 2015 –
11.0% ""Accidents happen. Even if we all stick to a schedule, the world is unpredictable...It upsets me, but I can’t let it ruin my life. If you said the wrong thing and upset me, I would tell you, and then you would stop, and it wouldn’t matter that you had said something wrong. We’re friends. Friends forgive each other.""
April 8, 2015 –
11.0% ""Can I ask about your autism?” \n He smiled. Not big, not long, but it was there. The gesture arrested me. \n “Yes. You may always ask me about my autism. Then you’ll know. Knowledge is important.""
April 8, 2015 –
14.0% "No one is normal. Normal is a lie."
April 8, 2015 –
15.0% "When I speak, one hundred percent of what I say is my words. Some autistic people, though, can’t ever stop parroting either TV or movies or what the person in front of them just said. It’s because of their brain octopuses. People shouldn’t laugh or make rude faces at autistic people when they parrot. Some can’t help it, and most who can have to work not to."
April 8, 2015 –
18.0% "description"
April 8, 2015 –
19.0% ""Everyone’s different. Some people are more able to shove their differences into the dark, to blend in and be sheep, but that isn’t always a good thing.” \n “I’d rather be a sheep than be alone.” \n “But that’s the big secret. The sheep are more alone than everyone.""
April 8, 2015 –
27.0% "Okay, now I'm full out ugly crying."
April 8, 2015 –
30.0% " my emotions feel loud and big. its hard for me to keep hold of them. they weigh me down. make me heavy and tired and overwhelmed. sometimes I feel like everyone else is carrying a bucket of water but I’m trying to carry an ocean. its very hard. sometimes I would rather not carry my ocean, even if it meant I couldn’t be alive. "
April 8, 2015 –
32.0% "description"
April 8, 2015 –
50.0% "We’ve discussed this. You’re not broken. You don’t need to be fixed."
April 8, 2015 –
50.0% ""Emmet David Washington, you’re beautiful, brilliant and perfect as you are. I don’t ever want you to be normal. I can’t think of anything sadder on this earth than losing you to the pool of lemmings.""
April 8, 2015 –
51.0% "It was a good kiss, and everything felt right. I belonged. I wasn’t normal, but I belonged—to Jeremey. We could stay boyfriends, and we’d get to live in The Roosevelt together, just like we wanted."
April 8, 2015 –
65.0% "Maybe I’m different, but I have custom font invitations on my bathroom mirror to have good-morning sex. I bet all the people who think Emmet and I are trained dogs don’t have anything as awesome as that."
April 8, 2015 –
71.0% ""I’m embarrassed I’m such a mess.” \n David snorted. “Somebody has to reach into my rectum with a finger and pull out my turds every night after dinner. I’m pretty sure anything you have to confess isn’t any grosser than that.” \n I blinked at him, and I’m embarrassed to say my mouth fell open. I thought for sure he had to be kidding, but he wasn’t. Holy crap. \n Pardon the pun."
April 8, 2015 –
78.0% "I shut my eyes tighter and started to hum and rock. He’d think I was the R word, but I didn’t care. I had to shut him out. \n Except his voice is so loud I couldn’t block it, which is why I heard him say, “Fine. I’ll go flirt with your boyfriend then. See how you like that, asshole—” \n He stopped talking then because I’d unblocked my ears, opened my eyes and punched him in the face. It hurt my hand, but I didn’t care."
April 8, 2015 –
79.0% "My anger and sadness was my ocean, and I couldn’t carry it. Not anymore. \n No one could really love me. Not when they could love somebody else instead."
April 8, 2015 –
81.0% "When David calls Emmet "Train Man" it makes me think of rain man, and it makes me feel like he's making fun of Emmet a little bit too."
April 9, 2015 –
88.0% "There is no normal, not really. Not a right and a wrong way to be. But there is belonging."
April 9, 2015 –
89.0% "I am normal. I belong. I have a friend who can kick ass from a wheelchair. I live independently and get good grades. I’m an excellent lover."
April 9, 2015 – Shelved as: favorites
April 9, 2015 – Finished Reading
July 9, 2015 – Shelved as: gay-book-reviews
July 12, 2015 – Shelved as: mm-favorites
September 23, 2015 – Shelved as: mm-fiction
January 2, 2016 – Shelved as: 2015
April 1, 2016 – Started Reading
April 1, 2016 – Finished Reading
April 19, 2017 – Started Reading
April 19, 2017 – Shelved as: 2017
April 19, 2017 – Shelved as: 2016
April 20, 2017 – Finished Reading
May 21, 2017 – Shelved as: 5-stars-for-real
May 31, 2017 – Started Reading
May 31, 2017 – Shelved as: audiobook
May 31, 2017 –
0.0% "Audio choice for today."
May 31, 2017 –
57.0% "I'm loving this so far - but will have to pick it up again tomorrow to finish. Iggy Toma is doing a FANTASTIC job with this. If you're on the fence? Don't be - buy it!"
June 1, 2017 – Finished Reading
August 17, 2017 – Started Reading
August 17, 2017 – Finished Reading
January 31, 2019 – Started Reading
February 2, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)

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Heller Wonderful review for a wonderful story!

BWT (Belen) Heller wrote: "Wonderful review for a wonderful story!"

Thank you!

Nick Pageant Great review, Belen! I'm glad you loved it as hard as I did.

Maria Well spoken. Wonderfully stated. The story was, without a doubt, superb.

BWT (Belen) Thanks all! This was definitely a story that has stayed with me. I find myself thinking about the characters almost like they were real and I got to meet them in person, and now I almost worry about them. That, to me, is the depth of feeling Heidi Cullinan brought to these characters.

Maria Absolutely. I gobble up everything Heidi. This series is a cut above I think. The woman does her research. I love how the characters are treated with dignity. It sticks with you.

**Kaycee** Great review and fantastic book ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

BWT (Belen) **Kim** wrote: "Great review and fantastic book ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️"

Thank you! It's one of my favorites!

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