I’d never heard of this book before. The Dive From Clausen’s Pier was first published in 2002 making it a bit before my time… Someone recommended it to me so I read some reviews and decided that this time around, instead of heading straight for the newest releases from familiar authors, I’d go back in time a bit in search of a hidden gem.
Well, it’s probably not fair to call Dive a “hidden” gem. The book was on the NY Times Best-Sellers List for a really long time. It was celebrated in the media, sold millions of copies, and eventually received the Kate Chopin literary award. In addition to Dive, Ann Packer also wrote Songs Without Words, which I’ve heard good things about. So, knowing all that, I was really looking forward to diving into this novel (hehe).
The story is about Carrie Bell. She’s a small town girl from the Midwest who has questions about whether or not that’s what she’ll always be. She’s clearly bored and is drifting away from Mike, her boyfriend of eight years. Carrie and Mike are just going through the motions and on the way to dunzo when tragedy strikes. Mike breaks his neck trying to impress Carrie by diving into Clausen’s Pier. He’s in a coma for weeks and will never walk again.
Carrie spends a few chapters basically walking in circles. Naturally, she’s back and forth on what to do next, whether to stay or go. No spoilers here! I will say, however, that the ending is not what you’d expect.
Yes, emotionally this book pulls you in opposite directions. What would you do? This plot is like one of those scenarios where it feels like there’s no right answer and no matter what happens feelings are hurt, lives are shattered. It’s what makes this book so interesting, because you have to look inside yourself to figure out what it is you’d do. It’s revealing, unsettling, and definitely worth reading.
For purchase below.