Feature

Novel of the week: Carry the One

In Carol Anshaw’s powerful new novel, “trauma changes everything and nothing.”

(Simon & Schuster, $25)

In Carol Anshaw’s powerful new novel, “trauma changes everything and nothing,” said Carmela Ciuraru in USA Today. We meet three Chicago siblings in 1983, on the night of a wedding. The bride’s siblings, Nick and Alice, pile into a car driven by Nick’s girlfriend, who is high. On a country road, the vehicle hits a 10-year-old girl, killing her. Over the next 25 years, we watch Nick, Alice, and their sister, Carmen, move on, bearing varying degrees of regret. The driver does prison time. Nick plunges deeper into drug use. Alice can’t stop secretly painting images of the dead girl. Carmen, who wasn’t in the car, becomes depressive. At times, the shadow that the incident casts is dark, “at other times, almost imperceptible,” said Margaret Quamme in the Columbus, Ohio, Dispatch. Anshaw’s narrative leaps around, sometimes leaving gaps for the reader to fill in. It’s Carmen, ultimately, who arrives at the book’s central question: “What kind of humans are we if we forgive ourselves?” she asks. “The novel’s strength is that it doesn’t provide an easy answer.”

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