29 July 2012

Carry the One by Carol Anshaw

Flap Copy from ARC: "'Carry the One' begins in the hours following Carmen's wedding reception, when a car filled with stoned, drunk and sleepy guests accidentally 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 one another and their victim. As one character says, "When you add us up, you always have to carry the one." Through friendship 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 one another than we'd expect."

I was expecting this novel to move me in some way. I was expecting to read about a family coming to grips with a tragedy of their own making, seeking a way to move on with their lives in the wake of their poor choices that ultimately took an innocent life. Instead, I read a rather ho-hum tale of 3 siblings (Carmen, Nick and Alice) and their rather unexciting paths to adulthood. While the author attempted to weave Casey (the young girl killed by the group's drunk driving accident) into the story and make it seem as though the three adults were struggling with her memory every day, her inclusion felt more like an afterthought.

The novel is structured rather bizarrely, with frenetic jumps among people, places and times. I didn't find the characters to be particularly moving, nor their lives or struggles to be realistic or thought-provoking. All in all, this book was a bit of a disappointment, despite Anshaw's occasionally exquisite use of language.

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