ParentDish Feature: What are you reading? The Dive From Clausen's Pier

Filed under: Media, Day Care & Education

what are you reading?I have a confession to make: I haven't started The Lovely Bones yet. Have you? How is it going? I know I need just to do it, but I have to admit: It frightens me a little bit. I am afraid it might be too dark. But I have been practicing! I figure reading dark books is a little like diving into the deep end of the pool. If you practice swimming in shallower, lighter water, you just remind yourself that you can swim, and that the currents of the pool won't pull you down. The thing that bothers me about this analogy is that I am not sure who the lifeguard is...

I continued my rampage of reading real books this week (I actually consider my romances to be real books, but I like to pretend that I don't, so please forgive my little penchant for dividing romance from non-romance books). I picked up a book that has been on my shelf for years. I read a review when it first came out and I was fascinated: I so wanted to read it. So, I bought it, and there it sat. I read Ann Packer's book The Dive From Clausen's Pier.

The book has a fascinating premise: a young woman's fiance, Mike, dives into a quarry. The water has become more shallow than previous years, and he breaks his neck, and becomes a quadraplegic. The young woman, Carrie, packs up her apartment in the middle of the night shortly after his accident and flees to New York City without telling anyone from her Wisconsin town where she is going. She bunks for free with a friend from high school with whom she reconnected shortly after Mike's accident.dive from clausen's pierCarrie alienates her mother and friends by this move, but it was almost like she was compelled, hurled far from everything familiar. The book raises many interesting questions: What do we owe the people we love? If your fiance suffers an accident like this, are you a pariah if you don't stay with him/her? Is the distinction between being engaged and being married that great?

Of course, we get Carrie's point of view throughout, so it is hard to convict her of being human, though, even through her own eyes, sometimes we feel the hurt and rage people have toward her.

I thought it was a good read, but in retrospect, it wasn't one that stayed with me. I didn't mull over it for days like I do with some books. When I think about it now, several days after having finished it, I wonder what the point of the book was: I thought Carrie was going to reinvent herself, to pursue her interest in fashion, her talent for making clothes. The book is both satisfying on one level and unsatisfying on another. Considering where the characters begin and where they end up, I am not convinced that everything the author has put them through is worth it. I wanted bigger, bolder changes. Maybe Packer's vision is the more realistic-- and the fact that it has left me vaguely unsatisfied is troubling to me.

After I finished it, I went for a few days without starting a new book, except for beginning to read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. I sat down this morning with a pencil and sketch pad and looked around the living room for something to draw. I got cranky, because either nothing looked interesting, or it looked too difficult. I didn't have hours upon hours to draw: I just wanted to draw for a bit before I started my day. I ended up drawing my big toe.

I can't even go for very long without reading a novel, so last night, I started reading a fake book: Tall, Dark, and Cajun. It's a quick read, but faintly irritating. Look! How! Quirky! All! These! Southerners! Are! They eat alligator gumbo! They are taxidermists! They practice voodoo!

Just in case I chicken out on The Lovely Bones again, I have other books here that have been waiting patiently for years. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje sat on my shelf for years, untouched, and when I finally read it (before the movie came out), I was amazed! I couldn't believe how beautiful the writing was. It remains, to this day, one of my favorite books. The book that is calling to me right now is The Kite Runner. I think that might be next. Either that, or Pilgrim At Tinker Creek, which has been on the shelf, unread, for a record-holding twenty years.

What I want to ask you today is this: What are the books that have shaped who you are? What are your "life changing" books? I'll be back next week with mine.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.