Book Review: Carry The Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

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It’s like Elwood Blues says: everybody needs somebody to love. I’m an everybody. I get a somebody.

Synopsis:

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.

My Thoughts:

Carry the Ocean is the first in Cullinan’s Roosevelt series, and what an interesting first book it is.

CTO follows a couple, Emmet and Jeremey, from their first meeting throughout their eventual relationship. The interesting spin on this romance is that Emmet is autistic, and Jeremey suffers from major depression and social anxiety. Therefore, they not only deal with relationship issues like jealousy and sex, but with overcoming their own personal limits and how their conditions interact with one another. This was definitely my favorite part of the book.

I had never read from an autistic point-of-view. I never even considered autistic a POV to read from, so when I read the synopsis my interest was piqued. I have no idea how authentic Cullinan’s description of autism is but it was enough to make me look into autism and the spectrum for a small class project. On the other hand, I felt like her description of depression and anxiety were spot on having dealt with them both throughout my adolescent and young adult life. I was just fascinated by the psychology of this book overall. Especially the way the two boys interacted, and how Emmet’s autism allowed him to cope with Jeremey’s depression in an almost complementary way.

But! The boys can only ride their charm for so long. At some point, the novel needed to have a plot that would allow them to showcase their uniqueness which I felt was lacking. Once I got accustomed to Emremey, I noticed the other characters were utilised poorly, and the conflicts between them were resolved too quickly. I understand that in these types of series not too much could be said about these characters because they will probably have their own stories in later books in the series, but at the same time they shouldn’t feel so one dimensional.

While I definitely liked Carry The Ocean, I feel like it surely wasn’t the best that it could have been. This was a case where the book should have been longer to facilitate Emremey’s growth as a couple but fell short. Will I pick up another book by Heidi Cullinan? Sure, this was definitely interesting. Will I continue with The Roosevelt #2? Honestly, it depends on who the protagonist is. Some of the characters like I said were just so underused that I feel zero interest in reading anything where they are the center of attention. Nonetheless, I would recommend Carry The Ocean if you’re a fan of LGBT NA and want to read some very different and interesting protagonists.

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