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 23, her life has begun to feel suffocating. She longs for a change, an upheaval, 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 forces 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.
"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." (Scott Turow)
"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." (Gail Caldwell, Boston Globe)
"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." (Kirkus Reviews)
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Disappointing on many levels