Gaele's Reviews > Carry Me Away

Carry Me Away by Robb Grindstaff
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it was amazing
bookshelves: independent-review

An offer to review Robb Grindstaff’s second title had me jumping at the chance, since I loved his first book, Hannah’s Voice. In this story, we meet Carrie, youngest child of a Marine Corps father and Japanese mother, military brat, outspoken, fanciful and finding her way. At twelve, she and her brother are in a car accident: while she is the lone survivor, her medical issues and multiple physical issues isolate her, making much of her life an internal one: not the dreams of dates, dances and weddings she once shared with her best friend.

As a child of “nowhere” the sense of understanding and empathy that Grindstaff has for these military brats: always the new kid in school, never having anywhere feel like home, every place brings new customs and ways of doing things. While Carrie has medical issues that have kept her out of school, and essentially friendless, her one tie to her life before is her best friend, who is living the life the two had dreamed of on weekly sleepovers.

Burdened with her imminent death, she sets goals: going to high school, going to university, visiting her brother’s grave, even planning her own funeral and making it happy, since her mother had too much sadness already. A story that will tear at your heart even as you marvel at the strength and understanding this child displays, as she grasps and struggles to achieve something before she dies.

With consummate skill, Grindstaff gives us the “hidden Carrie” the one who mouths off like a typical teen in her own inner voice, but guilt of the burdens keep the words mostly unspoken. The sense of not-belonging and unfamiliar customs and ideas that all children who have followed a parent in the military or diplomatic corps can understand, it also holds relevance for the ‘new kid’ in the class, grade or room.

Poignant and touching yet holding a core of brutal honesty, Carrie will burrow into your heart as you marvel at the lack of overly maudlin or dramatic emotion surrounding a certain end. Carrie manages to face and confront loss, lonliness and impending death without dipping into self-pity, her approach is more direct in tackling each speedbump as one more item on the ‘get done’ list. The awareness yet refusal to acknowledge the steady decline of her parent’s relationship as they struggle with her independent and determined decisions, gracefully show her guilt for their troubles as she tries to do all she can without their help and input: to give them something to be proud of.

It is sad when the epitaph of a life is written before the life truly starts, but instead of the sad moments becoming the sum total of this story: it becomes a beautiful testament to the strength of an individual, and their determination to make a mark. Yes, Carrie is fictional, but so wholly real and complete that she easily could be the child in the house in the corner, or the one in line at the PX. Grindstaff did not disappoint with this second book, and another is added to my best of the year shelf. Take a chance on this title, it will be a story you will not soon forget, and will read repeatedly for the hidden gems within.

I received an ARC copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions are my own responsibility.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 22, 2013 – Shelved
September 22, 2013 – Shelved as: independent-review
September 22, 2013 – Finished Reading

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