Archive for the ‘guilt’ Tag

Living With Tragedy   Leave a comment

I recently discovered the unexpected pleasure of Carol Anshaw’s Carry the One, which had been buried in my nightstand stack. (The unforeseen is or should be, after all, one of the joys of picking up a new book.)

Through richly developed characters, smooth transitions of the progression of time and several relatable subthemes, Anshaw has crafted a meaningful story about the impact of tragedy – even when there are degrees of separation from it.

Soon after Carmen’s wedding reception, five guests including her siblings Alice and Nick and their partners Maude and Olivia, who are all on drugs or drunk, are involved in an accident. On a dark, deserted road their car runs over a young girl.

Each passenger, as well as the wedding couple, deal with the accident in different ways. Olivia, who was driving is sent to prison where she undergoes a dramatic personality change. Alice immerses herself in her art by painting portraits of the deceased girl as she would have grown up. Carmen, who was not in the car, engages in community activism; and Nick, who is overwhelmed with guilt, tries to overcome his addictions in order to be the man Olivia insists he become.

Their success in their respective endeavors varies as time passes. This progression is smooth. It’s subtly indicated through someone’s birthday, a current event and the age of a beloved dog – among other observations.

Anshaw incorporates wry humor in this engaging, relevant narrative while portraying vivid emotional pain through familial and romantic love.

Carry the One

Four+ Bookmarks

Simon & Schuster, 2012

253 pages

Observing from the Sidelines   4 comments

Perks

I’m probably not alone in my preference to read the book before I see its film adaptation. The Perks of Being a Wallflower was no exception. I am now anxious to watch the movie.

Stephen Chbosky’s novel is told through letters written by Charlie, an insecure 15-year-old, to an unknown recipient. Charlie’s letters are brutally honest in their reflection of his life as the youngest of three children in a traditional family. It’s clear from the outset, though, that he is far more sensitive than most teenage boys. Sure, he faces teen angst like most kids, but his sensitivity and intelligence set him apart from his peers. Through what can only best be described as chutzpah, he introduces himself to Patrick and Sam (Samantha) – step-siblings in their senior year. Charlie is a freshman, but his new friends don’t seem to mind and welcome him into their circle.

As Charlie becomes more involved with his new friends, he discovers that he is not the only teenager with problems. His letters reveal more and more about himself and those around him. It’s evident that his issues are intense: misplaced guilt and an ability to keep a family secret he shouldn’t be burdened with. Lingering in the background are topics of sexuality, identity, and perceptions.

Charlie may never be a popular boy, but he has friends and family who care deeply about him. Even for those of us long removed from school days, it’s still possible to appreciate the value of those intangibles.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Four Bookmarks
Gallery Books, 1999
213 pages