Carry Me Away by Robb Grindstaff had so much spark and personality that once the book built up momentum, I found myself thinking about Carrie when I wasn’t reading, and couldn’t wait to get back into her life.
Carrie’s whole life changes when she gets into a serious car accident at the age of twelve. As if adolescence isn’t hard enough, she lives her life trying to disguise the fact that she is biracial, so that she can fit in with everyone else. As part of a military family, she never stays in one place long enough to grow any roots.
Despite many surgeries, she sustains significant damage to her organs, which will not be able to support her for long. Her priorities shift as she tries to figure out what she wants to accomplish with the time that she has left.
An eternity. Life wasn’t an eternal thing. We all would die someday. But when you don’t remember being born, and you can’t fathom some distant unknown future when you will die, life seems an eternal horizon stretching in both directions. Living under a Death sentence gave life meaning. I knew when it would end, or at least a general idea. I made a list of goals and set out to reach them. When the horizon moved a little farther out, I set new goals.
Grindstaff has a gift creating characters that are personable and very real.
Carrie is really witty and hilariously funny. Grindstaff lets us into her head to see what she is really thinking, despite what she says. Her character is very engaging, and I feel like I had an emotional connection to her. Carrie really jumped off the page and came alive.
Carrie’s best friend CinDee is also a strong and inviting character. Although we don’t get to see her soul the way we see Carrie’s, you can just feel the goodness in her.
I loved how patient and nonchalant Carrie’s crush, Paul, was. He was steady and unwavering, and was the rock in Carry Me Away.
I found Carry Me Away to be a little rushed in the beginning as we fly through Carrie’s childhood. The first few chapters seemed to pass by with a blur, but I got settled in comfortably when the appropriate time came.
Carry Me Away is a little edgy with all of the swearing, taboo relationships, and varying sexual situations. Probably not a PG-13 book.
Grindstaff isn’t much for long, drawn-out descriptors, so Carry Me Away uses mainly character dialogue to further the plot, which keeps the storyline interesting and expeditious without having to create mock suspense. None of the lead-ups were obvious, and the romantic development was slow, unexpected, and delicious.
As I was reading, I wondered why Carrie never agonized over the fact that she was given a year (or so) to live. She seemed to take it in stride. She didn’t freak out, worry, or obsess. The most self-pitying thing that she did was change her wedding planning scrapbook into a funeral planning scrapbook. It didn’t all come together for me until I got towards the end of the book and looked back through the titles of each of the ‘Books’: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, The Spiral, and Acceptance. Carrie was dealing with it in her own way.
Yes, Carry Me Away is a little morbid; it is about death, after all, but you can turn it around and make it about living life. Even though we all live with the perception that our lives are infinite despite knowing otherwise, and regardless of how long we actually have left, Carrie reminds us of what is really important.