Summary and book reviews of The Dive From Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer

The Dive From Clausen's Pier

By Ann Packer

The Dive From Clausen's Pier
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2002,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2003,
    384 pages.

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About this Book

Book Summary

A riveting novel about loyalty and self-knowledge, and the conflict between who we want to be to others and who we must be for ourselves.

Carrie Bell has lived in Wisconsin all her life. She's had the same best friend, the same good relationship with her mother, the same boyfriend, Mike, now her fiancé, for as long as anyone can remember. It's with real surprise she finds that, at age twenty-three, her life has begun to feel suffocating. She longs for a change, an upheaval, for a chance to begin again.

That chance is granted to her, terribly, when Mike is injured in an accident. Now Carrie has to question everything she thought she knew about herself and the meaning of home. She must ask: How much do we owe the people we love? Is it a sign of strength or of weakness to walk away from someone in need?

The Dive from Clausen's Pier reminds us how precarious our lives are and how quickly they can be divided into before and after, whether by random accident or by the force of our own desires. It begins with a disaster that could happen, out of the blue, in anybody's life, and it forces us to ask how we would bear up in the face of tragedy and what we know, or think we know, about our deepest allegiances. Elegantly written and ferociously paced, emotionally nuanced and morally complex, The Dive from Clausen's Pier marks the emergence of a prodigiously gifted new novelist.

Chapter 1

When something terrible happens to someone else, people often use the word "unbearable." Living through a child's death, a spouse's, enduring some other kind of permanent loss--it's unbearable, it's too awful to be borne, and the person or people to whom it's happened take on a kind of horrible glow in your mind, because they are in fact bearing it, or trying to: doing the thing that it's impossible to do. The glow can be blinding at first--it can be all you see--and although it diminishes as years pass it never goes out entirely, so that late some night when you are wandering the back pathways of your mind you may stop at the sudden sight of someone up ahead, signaling even now with a faint but terrible light.

Mike's accident happened to Mike, not to me, but for a long time afterward I felt some of that glow, felt I was giving it off, so that even doing the most innocuous errand, filling my car with gas or buying toothpaste, I thought ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About This Guide

Ann Packer's provocative debut novel, The Dive from Clausen's Pier, portrays one young woman's conflict between her commitment to the people in her life and of her duty to be true to herself. At turns enigmatic and candid, this absorbing story challenges us to look inward and to ask discomfiting questions about our relationships, our priorities, and our selflessness for which there are neither easy nor definitive answers. We hope the following questions, discussion topics, and author biography enhance your group's reading of The Dive from Clausen's Pier and provide you a useful framework with which to explore the themes it encompasses.


About This Book

Carrie Bell and Mike Mayer have been a ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Halfway through this reviewer was raving about A Dive from Clausen's Pier to friends, but at the end she came away feeling disappointed in the lead character and somewhat dissatisfied with the conclusion that seemed to be out of character. Putting this aside, A Dive from Clausen's Pier is a thought provoking first novel recommended to many women.  

Media Reviews
The New Yorker

[A] quietly engrossing d├ębut novel .... Packer fleshes it out with a naturalist's vigilance for detail, so that her characters seem observed rather than invented, and capable of mistakes that the author may never have intended. The result is genuine suspense..

Boston Globe - Gail Caldwell

The novels it calls most to mind. . . . are Allegra Goodman's 'Kaaterskill Falls' and Sue Miller's 'The Good Mother'. . . .its most admirable trait -- and surely the one that will define Packer's future work -- is its moral authenticity.

Publishers Weekly

This is the sort of book one reads dying to know what happens to the characters, but loves for its wisdom it sees the world with more clarity than you do.

Kirkus Reviews

A reflective and probing first novel...there's not a false note in the story's tentative resolution, which thwarts our initial expectations in order to satisfy more complex demands...Very fine fiction indeed.

Booklist - Carrie Bissey

Starred Review. There are no easy answers for Carrie, but her struggle to do what's right and her revelations about the life she wants for herself will keep readers turning page after eloquently written page. Give this to the same young female audience that loved Melissa Bank's The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

Author Blurb Madison Smartt Bell
Ann Packer's first novel has all the weight of reality, tooled with a jeweler's precision. The Dive from Clausen's Pier is a poignant and painstakingly rendered account of a woman in flight from catastrophe, in search of herself.

Author Blurb Scott Turow
The Dive from Clausen's Pier is one of those small miracles that reinforce our faith in fiction. It does what the best novels so often do, making the largest things visible by its perfect rendering of life on the smaller scale. It is witty, tragic and touching, and beguiling from the first page.

Reader Reviews
Lindsay

This was a great novel and I am so happy it found its way into my life. I recommend it for all people in need of a good book.

Lorrie

I enjoyed the book; however it was not great literature. I felt Carrie did mature during the course of the book although everyone wanted something from her, and she had very little to give after the accident. Kilroy was a character who needed ...   Read More

Stefanie

I am a high school student and I read this book in preparation for a book report I have to do. It was a great book and I would recommend it to people of all ages. Many people who have reviewed this book online said they don't like it, but I ...   Read More

Julie

I was disappointed. I expected a more mature novel (sex doesn't make it mature, either). It reads like a trumped-up teen pot-boiler. I'll forget having read this in a few days. Also, as a Wisconsinite, I'm disappointed. The author seems to know ...   Read More

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