C.G. Drews's Reviews > Carry the Ocean

Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan
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really liked it
bookshelves: new-adult, read-2018, ya-male-narrators, young-adult, autism, mental-illness, disability

This was such a sweet and quietly empowering book and I am all !!! about it! It was just really refreshing to read a disability book where it (a) was respectful, (b) the aim of the book wasn't to cure anyone, but instead to help them cope, and (c) it was super cuuuute.

It does hit you face-first with the dark sides of mental illness, but it actually spends most of the book building the characters. I find books like this usually spend the majority spiralling downwards. But it's 50/50 split and CAN I SAY HOW REFRESHING THAT IS.

It's dual narrated by Jeremey (who has depression/clinical anxiety) and Emmett (who has autism). And they are both THE SWEETEST. Jeremey is like a literal cinnamon Hufflepuff of the world and his anxiety is so severe and he's very low-functioning. Emmett is really really intense and I did love him, but he was a bit of a walking autistic-stereotype being super smart/into trains/white male etc etc. But their relationship was so pure and actually open?! Like full of communication, despite communicating being BOTH one of their biggest struggles. (I loved all the sign language! I agree that everyone should be able to learn sign.) Emmett's parents were so so supportive while Jeremey's were constantly forcing him to be "normal" which put him in such a dark place it nearly ended very badly. I loved their relationship and how much respect there was even though they both mad mistakes. (This is NA, not YA, so there is sex).

The anxiety/depression AND autism rep was so spot on!! As someone who has all three, it was nice to say such good rep. Actually it was unbelievably emotional to see it really unpack and understand what it's like.

It also:
☆ had a lot of therapy sessions on page where you got to see excellent/caring therapists
☆ it actually TALKED THROUGH issues and went into detail about therapy
☆ there was so much "stop saying you're stupid" and "stop saying you're broken"
☆ it has happy queers!!
☆ it also has a TON of other disability rep (later includes a snarky quadriplegic boy who is the best)
☆ shows SO SO MUCH of underrated struggles that people go through with mental health issues or disabilities...like the stuff that those of us who struggle with this know ... but it doesn't get talked about or presented in media
☆ also it showed different types of autism (!!)
☆ it focuses on disability in people over 18 (which is a demographic that is highly ignored and expected to "fix themselves")
☆ so good, son, so so good

"So why not the full 5-stars, hm?" we say while staring at me steadily.
Okay okay so hear me out. I found it frustrating how rich everyone was. It felt so convenient to have every need met because they could just pay for it.. Also the plot had no climax, it was just...so smooth? The writing also did a few tacky "but wait there's more!" things and it was just...ehhh. (view spoiler)

Definite recommend from me! It's wholesome, it's cute, it's so powerful with messages of self-acceptance and the: "You are okay to be YOU". Which should be the underlying theme of any disability or mental illness book. I love love love that it showed so much depth to the conditions. That these boys were complex and sweet and flawed and so relatable.

Also the Ocean Metaphor was amazing! There is no "ocean" in this book hahah, but the metaphor is: everyone has to carry a bucket of water. Some people's buckets are too heavy. Sometimes they spill them. Sometimes they drop them. Some people carry their buckets just fine. Other people are literally trying to carry the whole ocean in their bucket and they can't. It's no wonder they fall over, they cry, they meltdown and breakdown. They need way way more buckets and other people to help them with their bucket and tHERE IS NO SHAME IN THIS. Because how on earth can you be expected to carry the whole ocean by yourself? You shouldn't have to. You are doing a good job trying as you are.


So you see, you can't say autism and know what someone is. Any more than you can say boy or man and think you know a guy.

"It's perfectly fine to feel stronger or better with Emmett or any friend or loved one. But you must never let them be the only way you'er stable. People are good medicine, but they can't be your foundation of functionality. You must build that yourself."

"Fixed is a dangerous term. This isn't a little box were' ticking so I can give you a different coloured pill. This isn't an infection we're eradicating. We've been treating you and finding solutions for your situation since the day we had our first session. These are life-long conditions. Right now the condition most difficult for you to manage is anxiety. So let's talk about what's making you anxious."

"You're the one who decides what a good life is. What enough trying is. What happy is."
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Reading Progress

April 5, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
April 5, 2018 – Shelved
June 13, 2018 – Started Reading
June 14, 2018 –
page 162
60.45% "The anxiety and autism rep of these two boys is amazing and I MIGHT CRY 😭💛it's incredible to read a book that actually gets it holy heck"
June 15, 2018 – Shelved as: new-adult
June 15, 2018 – Shelved as: read-2018
June 15, 2018 – Shelved as: ya-male-narrators
June 15, 2018 – Shelved as: young-adult
June 15, 2018 – Shelved as: autism
June 15, 2018 – Shelved as: mental-illness
June 15, 2018 – Shelved as: disability
June 15, 2018 – Finished Reading

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