Book Review: Carry the One
Posted November 1, 2013on:
Carry the One by Carol Anshaw, Simon & Schuster, 2012, 288 pp.
I can’t resist used books. I dropped my son off at the YMCA for fall break camp, and they had a few tables full. I gladly made a donation to the Y in exchange for this one, because I just needed to escape into a novel for a day or two. Carry the One was a good read, not a great one, but it was enjoyable.
The novel follows the lives of a group of young people–interrelated by blood, marriage and romantic entanglements–after they are involved in a car accident that kills a young child. The rest of their lives, together or apart, they carry the burden of the one girl, a stranger, who did not live. The accident is with them all the time, together or apart. For some, the dead girl becomes a muse, as they dedicate their artistic work to her memory. For others, she is a ghost who haunts them with guilt and destroys them. For others, she is always a cipher. The novel spans more than 25 years of their moving from young adulthood to middle age, and the characters change and develop in interesting ways.
While the story is interesting and well-written, I did not find the characters as compelling as I had hoped. They fell too easily for me into archetypes–the artist, the addict, the activist, the actress. I had hoped for a deeper perspective on existential responsibility. While the characters all feel responsible in some way even if they weren’t behind the wheel, the author didn’t offer much that was new or insightful about the burden of that responsibility.
One special side note: I appreciated that this book was not pigeonholed as “lesbian fiction,” yet featured lesbian relationships and sexuality as prominently (maybe more so) than heterosexual ones. Hooray for moving beyond heteronormativity!
So, I recommend this to you as a good beach book, a good escape, a well-written story. It was all of those things. If you are hoping for more, keep looking.