December 14, 2011

We Are Never Alone • Carry the One

Carry the One book cover
Carry the One by Carol Anshaw
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 6, 2012
Source/Format: Book Riot (Thanks!) || ARC
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects my review.]

Carry the One begins in the hours following Carmen’s wedding reception, when a car filled with stoned, drunk, and sleepy guests accidently hits and kills a girl on a dark, country road. For the next twenty-five years, those involved, including Carmen and her brother and sister, connect and disconnect and reconnect with each other and their victim. 

Through friendships and love affairs; marriage and divorce; parenthood, holidays, and the modest tragedies and joys of ordinary days, Carry the One shows how one life affects another and how those who thrive and those who self-destruct are closer to each other than we’d expect. Deceptively short and simple in its premise, this novel derives its power and appeal from the author’s beautifully precise use of language; her sympathy for her very recognizable, flawed characters; and her persuasive belief in the transforming forces of time and love.

Even though I finished this novel last week, I found I needed a little time before I could even attempt to write a coherent review. There were just a lot of words and impressions and feelings swirling about in my head; though they remain untamed, it is my hope that I can organize them in a way that can fully and sufficiently express what I thought of Carry the One.

Carol Anshaw has a masterful way with words. The story is beautifully written, with characters that come across as genuine and descriptive turns of phrase. Though she never attempts to follow a precise timeline, the passage of time and the changes that occur during them come across clear enough. The end result is a novel where it appears that Anshaw is picking out the moments that we must see, the significant ones, the ones that really matter.

Carry the One chronicles the journey, mainly of the three siblings, as they carry the "one" with them all their lives. We see how, either subtly or obviously, the accident affected each of them and the outcome of their lives. The book is not about the accident; it is about the reaction to it, whether it is a reaction that is consciously embraced or unconsciously worms it way in out of nowhere. It remains in the background of their lives, as each one of them tries to deal with their grief and guilt and move on. 

Because of the realistic way that the portrayal of dealing with these emotions was done, I found the book utterly compelling. We see different reactions in the novel - a hopeless despair, a furious need to get it out of the system and a need to compensate with steadiness. Each of these are portrayed so eloquently, so beautifully.

Not only is the plot brilliant, but the carefully molded characters come to life with Anshaw's words. We discover their thoughts, habits, talents, worries and secrets - especially in lieu of the accident. The book feels a bit voyeuristic to me, as the reader examines these characters - Alice, Carmen and Nick - and their lives in detail, getting glimpses of them that perhaps were meant to be private. This feeling that I could see what no one else (in their world at least) could further fueled my interest in the novel.

Carry the One is not an easy read - but it is one that is worth it in the end.


  1. I just added this to my "to read" list! Great review! :)

  2. This sounds very good! I'm going to add it to my TBR


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