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Carrie Bell is the worst person in the world. Or so she would have you think. In the gripping, carefully paced debut novel of personal epiphany, The Dive from Clausen's Pier, by O. Henry Award winner Ann Packer, Carrie's very survival is dependent upon her leaving her fiancé, even after he dives into shallow water at a Memorial Day picnic and becomes paralyzed. Things hadn't been going so well for the Madison, Wisconsin, high school and college sweethearts. Carrie knew, deep down, that she wasn't going to become Mrs. Michael Mayer. But expectations and pressure from all sides--his family, her mother, her best friend Jamie, Mike's best friend Rooster--force Carrie to shut herself up in her room and sew outfits of her own design as if in a trance. Then one night she slips out of the only universe she's ever known. Many hours later she finds herself on the doorstep of a high school classmate living in Manhattan. Carrie's adventures in the city--quirky roommates and a new romance with an older, emotionally impenetrable man--confuse her in her quest both to forgive herself and to embark on a career in fashion design. Packer writes in a convincing voice and packs a lot into this novel; she infuses Carrie with enough humanity and smarts to choose her own version of "happily ever after." --Emily Russin
Packer's engrossing debut novel begins without ostentation. On Memorial Day, Carrie Bell and her fiance, Mike Mayer, drive out to Clausen's Pier for their annual ritual, a picnic with their friends, a trip they make the way a middle-aged couple might, in grudging silence. Before their resentments can be aired, Mike dives into too shallow water, suffering injuries that change their lives. If Mike survives, he will survive as a quadriplegic, and Carrie faces unexpected responsibilities. Ultimately, Carrie does what is both understandable and unthinkable. She leaves her hometown of Madison, Wis., and shows up on the doorstep of a friend in New York City. There she discovers a different world, different friends and a different self. The hovering question--what will Carrie do? Abandon Mike or return to him?--generates genuine suspense. Packer portrays her characters--both New Yorkers and Madisonites--deftly, and her scenes unfold with uncommon clarity. But if Packer has a keen eye, she has an even keener ear. The dialogue is usually witty; more important, it is always surprising, as if the characters were actually thinking--one of the reasons they become as familiar to the reader as childhood friends. The recipient of several awards, Packer is also the author of Mendocino and Other Stories. Clearly, she has honed her skills writing short fiction. What is unexpected is the assurance she brings to a larger canvas. In quiet but beautiful prose, Packer tells a complex and subtly constructed story of friendship, love and the hold the past has on the present. 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.
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This is by far one of the best books I have read. The only other two that I recently came across which were as good were "The Bark of the Dogwood" and "The Lovely... Read morePublished on July 18 2004
This book is extremely compelling, even with oveflowing, and sometimes seemingly useless, detail. While I found it heart-breaking in more ways then one, it's not only a good read,... Read morePublished on June 28 2004 by "sweetcitrus17"
This book is so over-filled with so many details and descriptions that are actually distracting from what could be a good story. Read morePublished on June 22 2004
There are not many books that I bother to write reviews on but this one is worth my time (there were only two others in all). Carrie is a wonderful character. Read morePublished on June 11 2004
Wonderfully written, this book had me from the first sentence. I had heard so much about Ann Packer but never seemed to get around to her. Boy and I glad I did. Read morePublished on June 6 2004
I have two friends who are married to paraplegics, and they say it ain't like this, that it's not realistic. But as a book, a story, The Dive from Claussen's Pier works just fine. Read morePublished on June 5 2004 by Peggy Vincent
The Dive from Clausen's Pier is a beautiful, well written story of 23-year-old Carrie Bell, a young woman from Madison, Wisconsin. Read morePublished on May 28 2004 by CoffeeGurl
The author had the opportunity to make a rich novel. Instead it is a book that will eventually make its way to the clearance table at the bookstore.Published on May 17 2004 by snowblaze
Carrie Bell has to be the most selfish woman I have ever read. I was outraged at her behavior when her fiance is tragically injured in a diving accident. Read morePublished on May 2 2004 by Kay Bunny