Synopses & Reviews
Kate Gray takes an unblinking look at bullying in her debut novel, Carry the Sky. It's 1983 at an elite Delaware boarding school. Taylor Alta, the new rowing coach, arrives reeling from the death of the woman she loved. Physics teacher Jack Song, the only Asian American on campus, struggles with his personal code of honor when he gets too close to a student. These two young, lonely teachers narrate the story of a strange and brilliant thirteen-year-old boy who draws atomic mushroom clouds on his notebook, pings through the corridors like a pinball, and develops a crush on an older girl with secrets of her own. Carry the Sky sings a brave and honest anthem about what it means to be different in a world of uniformity.
"In the rich rarified world of a prep school, Kate Gray has woven two powerful personal stories into a charged and compelling human novel which shows us that swimming under that quirky, antic, off-beat community are also life and death. Gray has a sharp eye and tells her story with verve and a deft touch."
Ron Carlson, author of The Signal and A Kind of Flying
"Lyrical, moving, and hauntingly beautiful, Kate Gray's Carry the Sky winds between two voices, Taylor and Song, both navigating the narrow lanes of St. Timothy's boarding school where they teach, both hitting the walls that surround them. One uses science to make sense of loneliness, loss, and desire — the other uses the beat of a rower's oar in water. Together these two outsiders struggle to move past mourning, to seek hope as they crack open their insular world. Carry the Sky is full of unforgettable characters and images, each word carefully chosen, like a perfect fold in a paper crane, creating a graceful neck, strong tail, and mighty wings, perched on the edge of the page, ready to take flight."
Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief and co-founder of One Story
"A splendid debut novel, beautifully written and brimming over with humanity and grace, alternately humorous and heart-wrenching."
Christopher Buckley, author of But Enough About You
"Set in a boarding school in 1983, Carry the Sky is a haunting exploration of loneliness, grief, and desire. In lyrical, elegant prose, Kate Gray spins a tale of characters struggling to forgive themselves and to find each other, and reminds us to pay attention to the ordinary and unexpected flashes of beauty around us: a brilliant kite, geese overhead, a paper crane in a tree."
Carter Sickels, author of The Evening Hour
"Carry the Sky is as intricate and precise as the paper cranes its characters fold. It comes as no surprise that Kate Gray is a poet as well as a fine novelist. Here we are surely in a poet's hands, her lyricism and attention to detail elevating the boarding-school narrative to something heartbreaking and truly universal."
Cari Luna, author of The Revolution of Every Day
"Carry the Sky is a dazzling narrative mosaic about innocence lost, the ghosts we grieve, and the emptiness of some forms of discipline and delineation. Kate Gray gives us a 'page-turner' in the best sense: you'll want to read both fast and slow, moving back and forth through this fearlessly told story, savoring."
M. Allen Cunningham, author of The Green Age of Asher Witherow and Lost Son
"In the small, close world of a boarding school, three broken people circle each other, drawing closer to the tragedy that will move them all, finally, beyond their private sorrows. Three voices, three stories, and we are caught up in those stories as they are slowly revealed, like shards of a shattered mirror, one piece at a time. There is huge humanity in this novel. It is shockingly beautiful. Kate Gray is relentless."
Joanna Rose, author of Little Miss Strange
"In Carry the Sky, two lonely hearts beat: Taylor Alta's in time to a coxn's chant, and Jack Song's to the mathematical pulse of physics equations. Both are misfits in the moneyed, J. Crew world of St. Timothy's, an exclusive New England boarding school where the privileges of the old boy network threaten to trump right and wrong. This smartly told story kept me turning pages late into the night, and reaching for the book as soon as I woke up. Kate Gray's prose sings as she gives us schoolyard bullying, unrequited love, unresolved grief, adolescent desire running amok, and adult desire scarcely contained."
Stevan Allred, author of A Simplified Map of the Real World
"Narrated in alternating chapters by veteran physics teacher Jack Song and first-year rowing coach Taylor Alta, Carry the Sky, which will be released next month by indie publisher Forest Avenue Press (hooray for indies!), offers a gut-wrenching look at life at a prestigious Delaware boarding school from the teachers' perspectives. At the start of the school year, Song and Alta are both reeling from tragedy: Song's sister Kim has died of a rare blood disease while Alta's best friend and fellow rower has recently drowned in the Schuylkill River. But there are more tragedies for them to face from the students they care for, and subsequently let down. The beauty of the language as the novel grapples with layers of grief is one of the best parts of this book — not surprising from an award-winning author of three collections of poetry. Many books about high school deal with bullying, but few explore the ramifications as deeply as Carry the Sky."
Melissa Duclos, Bustle
"Whether it's the loss of a loved one, suddenly or as the result of illness, or the loss of our true selves in order to conform to others' expectations, all loss is painful and deep. Kate Gray's stunning debut beautifully shows us that grief is the great equalizer of our shared human experience."
Edee Lemonier, The Reading and Writing Cafe
"Gray's poetic sensibilities crystallize in her prose. Under her careful hand, wild curls become a mask, hope is personified in the 'sunflower face' of a friend, and a lone goose in the sky evokes a blend of longing, loneliness, and loss. Often, her carefully rendered imagery and symbols purposefully repeat throughout the text, calling back to and layering on top of each other, slowly building mood and meaning."
Alicia Sondhi, Foreword Reviews