I was immediately entranced with the skilful beauty of Gray’s poetic sentence structure. Her freedom from traditional prose constraints allows the independent expressions to grab you by the heart and knock the emotional wind out of you time and time again.
The boarding school based narrative is told from varying perspectives, centring on new rowing coach Taylor Alta and physics teacher Jack Song. Taylor is grieving the loss of the woman she loved, while coming to terms with her school responsibilities. Jack is grappling with his Asian American heritage and its impact on his relationship with a student. Their independent journeys are connected through school expectations and student interactions.
While I’ve simplified the plot for this review, the intricacies of the character self discovery and development provide a feast for any hungry bibliophile.
A significant character, in its own rights, is rowing, described in luscious language usually reserved for the intimacy of a lover. I felt connected to the descriptions, as though they were my own thoughts and this embedded me deep in the narrative.
Personally, I found Taylor’s voice to be more believable, whether because of my self-association with her character or the author’s semi-biographical input. I often found myself wanting to skip over Jack’s voice to get back to Taylor’s heartache. That in mind, the difference in character tone is a credit to Gray’s talent; they are entirely separate entities orbiting within the same universe.
Carry The Sky is hands down one of the best books I’ve read recently. It captured the intensity of school bullying without victimising the victim. It took hold of my spirit and wouldn’t release me until weeks after the last page.
For those who are similarly enthralled, you will find the interview at the end of the book an insightful read. You can also follow author Kate Gray’s blog.