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.
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 ...
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.
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By turns darkly violent and heartbreakingly tender - a work of extraordinary emotional power from an astonishingly original writer.
Goodman's deft sense of character brings alive an appealing and engrossing cast, fleshed out by nuances of place and time.
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