"The Dive from Clausen's Pier"
(Piatkus, Paperback, 1st UK edition, 2002, read: March 03)
"Carrie Bell was born and raised in Wisconsin. She's had the same best friend, the same good relationship with her mother, the same boyfriend for as long as anyone can remember. She is already quietly bored with Mike when there is a tragic accident at Clausen's Reservoir. Everyone thinks they know what Carrie will - and ought to - do. But Carrie is caught in a maze of moral dilemmas and is forced to question everything she thought she knew about herself. It is a moment of terrifying confusion, but also of mesmerising possibility."
A debut-novel which, apart from "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold received a lot of attention in 2002 and which could be found on the US bestseller lists.
"Guilt" and "apologies" are the central themes of the story. The main character Carrie is a strange person. It's obvious that she continually apologizes for everything she does. Her "sorry" echoes through the whole novel and because she never does anything to change the things she's sorry about it gets on your nerves after a while. The whole thing culminates in her leaving New York to go home again and apologize to her best girlfriend who doesn't want to listen.
I would have wished for another ending of the book because I found Carries independent life in New York very impressive. But in the end she had to find a solution which didn't let her feel guilty anymore. And that might sometimes be more important than the fulfillment of ones own dreams.
When her long-time friend Mike has a terrible accident which leaves him paralyzed Carrie faces a dilemma. Her love for Mike had cooled down for quite some time and she had already considered the possibility to end the relationship. But after the accident it is impossible for her to go through with it. How can she leave her boyfriend and change her life when he has to sit in a wheelchair for the rest of his life?
One day Carrie just can't take it anymore and head over heels she drives to New York, without saying goodbye to anyone. Soon after she meets Kilroy who is completely different than Mike: older, more mysterious, unpredictable and, most of all, new.
And, come to that, New York ... Ms. Packer describes the city with the eyes of a young woman from a small town, for whom New Yorks offers new surprises at every corner. Rarely I've read a description of the city and its people which was so impressive. It's a declaration of love to all the cities peculiar characteristics.
[Dorothée Büttgen, May 03]
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