Book Review: Carry the One: A Novel

Carry the One: A Novel by Carol Anshaw

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A group of friends gather in a car for a late night trip back to Chicago after attending a country wedding. The driver and front seat passenger are stoned. They forget to put their lights on and are driving down dark country lanes with only the fog lights on. Suddenly their lives are stamped with a tragedy. A small girl, 10 year-old Casey Redmond, is hit by the speeding car, within minutes she dies.

As the story progresses, we follow 2 passengers from the car and the bride - all of whom are siblings - through the next 25 years of their lives. Through failed marries, through rehab, through children growing up and having children of their own; we follow not 3 characters but 4, as they always "carry the 1" with them.

The characters in this story are substantial and deeply written. They make incredibly human mistakes, which make the reader's loyalty towards them waver at times.

Carmen was the bride from the night of the accident. She married while young and pregnant. Within 2 years, her husband leaves her and she finds herself to be a single mother. Carmen is strong, and she is a mother not only to her child, Gabe, but also to her siblings. She cares for them deeply; however, her bond with her sister is the strongest.

Alice was a passenger in the backseat. On the night of the wedding, she fell for the groom's sister, Maude. Maude, toyed with Alice for the next 20 years. Never quite being there, never quite being gone. Alice is an artist, a somewhat famous artist. Her best work was of Casey Redmond. Painting a life for her that she would never live. She refused to show the paintings and she refused to destroy them. They were her apology to Casey.

Nick was the front seat passenger. His date, Olivia, was the driver. Olivia was sentenced to several years in prison and Nick visited her to prove his love for her, yet, before the accident she was a casual interest at best. Nick seemed to experience the guilt from the accident the most. Nick holds a secret from his family and the reader, a secret which changes the character of Nick, completely.

The point of view remained consistently with Carmen, Alice, and Nick until the end of the book when it transitioned to Gabe and Olivia. When we leave the characters their story isn't quite complete but we can kindly and gently step out to leave them to their lives.

I listened to the audiobook version of this story, I would suggest to read the book instead. The narrator for the audiobook was a flawed choice. She has a condescending tone that irritated me during the reading. Also, the audiobook caused confusion regarding the progression of time over the 25 years.

I would recommend this book … to readers who enjoy Jennifer Weiner. Though I do not classify this as "chick lit," I feel that Weiner has a similar ability to create interesting yet flawed characters.

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