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Cannonball Read III: Carry Me Home by Sandra Krig

By jack | Books | February 22, 2011 |

By jack | Books | February 22, 2011 |

Carry Me Home takes place in 1940, in rural Wisconsin, although it could just as easily be many other places in the country. The rural community Krig creates is as lush and interesting as any community about which I’ve read in years. Every character leaves an impression that lingers, hanging around long after they’ve left the page. The rural setting combined with the not-quite-right teenage protagonist will undoubtedly result in comparisons to Faulkner. I generally hate that anything rural gets related back to Uncle William, but in this case the comparison is probably merited. Although this narrative is simpler, Krig has some bone-crushing observations via the innocence of Earwig, the teenager in question, that can’t help but to put one in the mind of Benjy.

The novel hinges on the relationship between Earwig and his big brother, Jimmy. Jimmy, fiercely protective of his younger brother helps Earwig to carve out a life in his small town where he balances for most of the novel between child and man, although his mental capacities will never reach full maturity. The reader watches Earwig struggle with the responsibilities of almost adulthood, while still getting the “pass” among many of the town’s citizens of a child. As a result, he is privy to many interactions, conversations, and information that he might not otherwise be. It’s the processing of all that information and figuring out what to do with it that drives Earwig. When his brother goes off to war, the simplicity and innocence with which he worries for him is heart breaking. As he watches the town he loves buckle under the pressure of the war and their missing boys, he seems to be the only one who can understand what’s really going on.

As I type this, I realize it might sound trite. It is not. Krig has a wicked control of the language and although there are plenty of places where this story could fall into sticky melodrama, it doesn’t. Jimmy returns from the war changed in ways that only Earwig refuses to ignore. Instead of coming across as cheap commentary on the “wise-ness” (is that a word?) of the innocent, it comes across as nothing more than the result of the power of the love between Earwig and his brother. Earwig doesn’t understand everything, but he understands enough, and more importantly, he understands a lot more than most.

For more of jack’s reviews, check out her blog, Reads for Fun.

This review is part of Cannonball Read III. For more information, click here.