Published by: Samhain Publishing
Format: Kindle ARC
Genre: NA M/M Romance
Reviewed by: Judith
Did you see the score I gave this one? Did you? DID YOU?! 10/10. 10 whopping stars. That’s not something I hand out willy nilly to all the books that grace this blog. No, this book is special. It’s ridiculously special. Don’t get me wrong: it’s the funny, sexy, intelligent, fast paced, and lovely book we expect from Heidi Cullinan. But above all – and what sets it apart from everything – is how wholly unique it is to the genre. Read the plot, give it a chance; give me 50 pages and if you hate it, forget it. But if you trust my reviews, then do yourself a favor and one-click this book. It is oh so worth it.
Plot: 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.
Review: I’m going to be brutally honest here: starting Carry the Ocean I was a tad…trepidatious? Confused? Doubtful? It’s hard to pinpoint my exact feeling but it wasn’t your typical, “Oh great, another love story about two quirky characters! Let’s dive in!” No, it was something more than that. Let’s just meet the elephant in the room head on: yes, this book features a romance between an autistic college kid and his severely depressed and anxiety ridden neighbor. Yes, we see a lot of their respective illnesses. And yes, it is difficult to read at times.
I really didn’t know anything about autism or depression before starting Carry the Ocean and I totally let that color how I approached this book. Prior to reading it, I thought of them as illnesses that defined people and I couldn’t imagine how Heidi could hash out a love story featuring an austistic guy and his depressive would-be lover. It just didn’t seem like it could ever be sexy. Their problems seemed too all-encompassing, too overwhelmingly difficult to overcome. But the fault here is 100% mine.
Yes, the characters themselves made me scared to read this book and yes, I’m sure some of you will feel the same way. But please, don’t let that deter you. Heidi Cullinan is a master storyteller. She takes two marginalized segments of the population – an autistic man and a depressive with severe anxiety – and makes them more than their illnesses, makes that so much more than what defines them as characters. She begins by teaching us about autism and depression and in turn, the natures of the leads, Emmet and Jeremy, are exposed without any surprises.
This is such a simple story really. Two characters meet, they have problems that seem insurmountable – parental disapproval, suicide attempts, the inability to live outside a hospital – but they face them and succeed. And they do it together in a way that’s loving, nurturing, beautiful.
Carry the Ocean is in a word, phenomenal. Watching the relationship bloom and grow between Emmet and Jeremy is so gut-wrenching and so so satisfying. I love the push and pull between these two. Their relationship grows and strengthens as you read and in the end, it’s the sort of relationship we all yearn for: one that is built on mutual trust and respect. It’s also sexy as hell in a way that shocked me (mainly cause I had all those pre-conceived notions and hadn’t let them go once the sexy started). In the end, I’m giving this a HUGE, ENTHUSIASTIC 10/10.
How much did I like the heroes: 10. Emmet is clearly the focus as his autism is the sort that causes a bigger reaction in the world around him but Jeremy is the one hurting throughout most of the story and the one you empathize with the most. These two are just awesome to watch interacting. I loved seeing how their respective illnesses played a part in their reactions to things – Emmet has to count and has to have things a certain way. Jeremy is so scared of saying/doing the wrong thing, that he has no opinion and agrees with everything. It’s both touching and hilarious at the same time.
How believable is the plot: 10. Woah, you mean these two characters and their wacky families don’t exist? This plot is so believable, you will really feel as if you understand what it is to be a man living with autism and depression. You’ll be able to feel them both and fully understand the joys and struggles of them.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. Heidi has got my literary number. Her writing has a terse quality about it that just clicked with me. There’s not a lot of description but you will honest to god, feel as if you are living the story along with Jeremy and Emmet. You can see the secondary characters, understand all the feelings and nuance, and really feel a part of their day to day lives. Everything is well-crafted and all the writing is tight.
How much did I want to keep reading: 10. This is the start to a series of books featuring characters who live in the Roosevelt, a special needs assisted living community. I have a hunch about whose book is next and if I’m right, yes! If I’m wrong, still yes! The possibilities for many more vignettes of lives from this home are limitless and I am so eager to dive into them all.
Final Score: 10/10. I’m serious: give this 50 pages and if you don’t like it…something’s wrong cause it is stellar!
Heidi is also hosting an enormous giveaway you can enter below!