The Strife of Others and Our Own | Review of “I Carried You Home” by Alan Gibney (2016) Patrick Crean Editions

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We all have tried to deal with trauma and strife within our family units. Death, illness, loss of fortunes, etc. take their toll upon psyches and,  in turn,  manifest themselves in irrational behaviors. So how do we at least try to relate to odd manners when they occur? Literature gives us a starting point to talk about our problems. And one such point for readers to use for a discussion about family problems is Alan Gibney’s I Carried You Home.

Page 1-2

The police said Will landed on the hood of the car, but I imagined it differently at the time. I imagined him flying over the odd and hitting the ground and everything going quiet and still, and it staying like that for a long moment, the snow falling gently on the wreck, and then the wind starting up again and her waking with the noise and pulling herself free and shouting into the trees, searching until she found him in the snow. She didn’t think of dragging him to the car and leaving him on the seat and going for help. She wasn’t capable of leaving him. She carried him on her back through the blizzard, up and down the steep hills, over the ice and snow. She kept forgetting what had happened. Why was she there? Why did her face hurt? A ditch. A tree. Keep moving. She was bent over, balancing him on her back, his arms over her shoulders. She shuffled forward, holding his wrists, his face against her neck. Her hands burned in the wind. How far was it? She drove it very day. It was at least a mile. There long hills, a good mile. Will groaned and kicked his legs. Hold on, she shouted. He coughed against her neck. Something warm rolled down her back. We’re almost there. Her teeth hurt, her neck hurt. She pulled down on his wrists to stop him struggling. Hold on.

I was doing homework in the living room, watching the snow swirling around the garden lights. I saw someone coming up the driveway, an old woman bent over carrying a bundle on her back her long hair whipping in the wind. She looked up, and it was my mother, her face pale blue in the porch light. I ran outside in my T-shirt.

– What happened? What happened? I shouted over the wind.

 

This is a very intense book that deals with internal thoughts and emotions – things many of us rarely wish to talk about it. We are introduce to Ashe, an adolescent male who is trying to mature into a man. Yet his already awkward home life is shattered even more as his brother is killed and his mother shuts herself away from the world.

Page 10-11

After the prayer, Nell stood beside the grave as people filed by.

-We will see you at the reception, Mrs. Finder, the priest said to her.

She said nothing. He touched her shoulder but she didn’t look up. He walked down the hill with his head bowed. The people started drifting away. My girlfriend, Sheila, walked up the hill with a white rose in her hand. She was lame in one leg, which made it hard for her to climb up the slope. She went over to Nell and handed her the flower. Nell stared down at it, as if she couldn’t understand what it was for, the she crumpled it and dropped it on the ground. I took Sheila by the arm and led her down to her parents. I’m sorry, I said to them. They stared up at Nell for a time, then turned and left.

Nell just stayed in the same spot, her eyes shut, her jaw muscles working working like she was chewing something. I stood by a tree to get away from the wind. Karl stayed out in the open shivering, his hands clasped in front of him like an altar boy. The snow started up for a while and then stopped. Why hadn’t Aunt Susan come, I wondered. Wasn’t she told? How long did we have to stand by the damn hole? It was black from where I stood. I couldn’t look at it. I watched Nell rocking gently from side to side, the wind pulling at her dress and hair. Then her knees buckled and she fell face down on the snow with her arms out. Karl ran over and grabbed her under the arms and sat her up.

-Breathe, Nell. You’ve fainted. Breathe in.

-Don’t touch me, she said, pushing him away and trying to get up but sitting down again. She held her hand out to me. Please.

For the a book that deals with such deep emotions, the language in it is very simple. We can follow Ashe thoughts with ease and grasp his anger and frustrations. And sense his discomforts when situations arise that cause him trepidation. This is a great book for reader to come to grips with their own anguish no matter what their age may be.

Page 127

-Mom.

-All right? It’s a simple promise. If I’m alive, you won’t play with the gun. You won’t touch it. Just promise me that.

-Okay, I promise.

-The day I’m gone, you can do whatever you want.

-You’re such a bitch.

-I’m not a nice person, Ashe. It’s true. I know that. And I wish I cared about it, but I don’t seem to right now, I’m sorry. I don’t know how I’m meant to act these days. Susan told me she slept with Karl, and you found out about it. But the thing I couldn’t figure out was why she woke me up to tell me. Does she really think I care what she does with Karl? Because I don’t. I really don’t care what anyone does. It’s not a nice thing. I know that . . . Look, I’m going back upstairs now, but I expect you to keep your promise. I wouldn’t expect it from anyone else, but I do from you. I hold you to a higher standard Ashe.

– I’m not going to touch the gun, I said.

-Okay then.

She walked past me and paused at the door.

-You’re the only person I trust Ashe . . .You’re your own man, I know that . . . Everyone else is just wandering around, spinning in the wind, but not you . . . Don’t think I haven’t noticed.

She went upstairs. Suddenly I was dog-tired. I didn’t want to go outside and sleep in the cold. I went into the living room and lay down on the sofa.

I Carried You Home by Alan Gibney is a complex and interesting read that can help one come to grips with their own emotions. A unique piece of literature and an emotional one too.

*****

Link to HarperCollins Canada’s website for I Carried You Home

 

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