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Carry Me Home: A Novelby Sandra Kring
Synopses & Reviews
The love of family. The heartbreak of war. The triumph of coming home.
1940. Rural Wisconsin. Sixteen-year-old Earl “Earwig” Gunderman is not like other boys his age. Fiercely protected by his older brother, Earwig sees his town and the world around him through the prism of his own unique understanding. He sees his mother’s sadness and his father’s growing solitude. He sees his brother, Jimmy, falling in love with the most beautiful girl in town. And while Earwig is unable to make change for customers at his family’s store, he is singularly well suited to understand what other people in his town cannot: that life as they know it is about to change; the coming war will touch them all.
For Jimmy will enlist in the military. And Earwig will watch his parents’ marriage buckle under the strain of a family secret. And when Jimmy returns — a fractured shadow of his former self — it is Earwig’s turn to care for him. His struggles to right the wrongs visited upon his revered older brother by war, women, and life are at once heartwarming and riotously funny. Their family and town irrevocably altered, Earwig and Jimmy fight to find their own places in a world changed forever.
"Earnestly narrated by brain-damaged 16-year-old Earl 'Earwig' Gunderman ('Ma said that after the fever was gone, my brain was like meat cooked too long, and it just fell apart whenever I tried to learn something new'), Kring's heartfelt debut explores the effects of WWII on a smalltown Wisconsin family. Earwig, whose intellectual difficulties are balanced by his sharp emotional intelligence, gets a significant assist in the growing-up process from his older brother, Jimmy. But after enlisting in the National Guard on a drunken whim, Jimmy is shipped out with one of the first ill-equipped units to be sent to the Philippines. When his unit is overrun in Bataan, his fate is assumed to be grim. At home, Earwig sighs about rationing, discovers a dark family secret and hopes for Jimmy's safe return. And Jimmy does come home, but, shell-shocked after years as a POW, he drowns his sorrows in drink. It takes Earwig's devotion and a tender new relationship with young widow Eva Leigh to turn him around. Kring's narrative is familiar at first, but hits its stride after Jimmy's homecoming, capturing family tensions and the divisive town dynamics when Jimmy and his fellow soldiers criticize the government for abandoning them in Bataan. Strong characters, a clear community portrait and a memorable protagonist whose poignant fumblings cloak an innocent wisdom demonstrate Kring's promise. Agent, Catherine Fowler. (On sale Dec. 28)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
When Earl "Earwig" Gunderman, a simple-minded teenager from Willowridge, Wisconsin, isn't working in his family's grocery store, he sneaks out with his older brother Jimmy and Jimmy's friends to fish and drink and talk about life. His understanding of the world may be limited in some ways, but profound — and uproarious — in others. Then the country is thrust into war, and Jimmy is sent to the Pacific. Earwig must cope without the protection of his revered older brother, and cope he does, though in the shadow of a wrenching family secret and agonized by Jimmy's undetermined fate. Then Jimmy comes home. Three years have passed, years he spent as a prisoner of war, and when he returns he is a shadow of the confident, heroic young man he used to be. Earwig is thrust into a role he never could have imagined — of protector to someone who protected him all his young life. His struggle to bring his family together, and to right the wrongs visited upon Jimmy by war, women, and life, are at once riotously funny and brimming with tenderness and warmth.
About the Author
Sandra Kring lives in the north woods of Wisconsin. She has run support groups and workshops for adult survivors of trauma. Carry Me Home is her first novel.
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