Author: Heidi Cullinan
Series: The Roosevelt, #1
Released: April 7th 2015
Source: Publisher for review
Normal is just a setting on the dryer.High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.
Are we ready for a love story involving one brilliant but autistic boy and one boy with severe depression and clinical anxiety? Just days ago, I would have said an emphatic no because honestly, how would that even work? Right now, as I’m eating my third comfort cupcake and wiping happy tears from my eyes, I know exactly how: it works splendidly, beautifully, poignantly and amazingly. It’s challenging and often ridiculed, yes, but it works. My eternal gratitude to Heidi Cullinan for showing me that I was both blind and – forgive me for using the S word - stupid. We’ve been seeing more and more diversity in YA and NA books, which is absolutely wonderful, but positive representation of mental illness is another marvelous step further, and one not many dare to take.
Carry the Ocean is filled with hope, but it’s not always an easy read. When Emmet or Jeremy become overwhelmed, we become consumed by our desire to save them, to hide and protect and love them forever. These fully fleshed out characters are entirely too real to us from the very first page, and their all-consuming pain is sometimes almost too much to deal with. But the strong feeling of hope never quite abandons us as Cullinan reminds us over and over again that normal simply doesn’t exist and that there’s a place out there for everyone, even Emmet and Jeremy.
Heidi also did an amazing job of showing us the world through Emmet’s eyes, of bringing us closer to autism itself and making us see and truly experience the difficulties of people on the autism spectrum. However, Carry the Ocean isn’t about autism or depression, not really. It’s about two boys finding love, same as everybody else. How they love each other and depend on each other along the way is what makes this book worth your while.
While Fever Pitch remains my favorite by Heidi (because Aaron!), Carry the Ocean is sort of in a league of its own, impossible to compare or even rate. Five measly stars can’t to this book justice, and neither can my clumsy, not so eloquent praise. Read it, enjoy it, cry and cheer, and when you’re done, let me know so we can gush together. There’s nothing else I’d rather do.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.