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Author: Ann Packer
Year: 2002

The Story
A riveting novel about loyalty and self-knowledge, and the conflict between who we want to be to others and who we must be for ourselves.

Carrie Bell has lived in Wisconsin all her life. She’s had the same best friend, the same good relationship with her mother, the same boyfriend, Mike, now her fiancé, for as long as anyone can remember. It’s with real surprise she finds that, at age twenty-three, her life has begun to feel suffocating. She longs for a change, an upheaval, for a chance to begin again.

That chance is granted to her, terribly, when Mike is injured in an accident. Now Carrie has to question everyting she thought she knew about herself and the meaning of home. She must ask: How much do we owe the people we love? Is it a sign of strength or of weakness to walk away from someone in need?

The Dive from Clausen’s Pier reminds us how precarious our lives are and how quickly they can be divided into before and after, whether by random accident or by the force of our own desires. It begins with a disaster that could happen, out of the blue, in anybody’s life, and it forces us to ask how we would bear up in the face of tragedy and what we know, or think we know, about our deepest allegiances. Elegantly written and ferociously paced, emotianally nuanced and morally complex, The Dive from Clausen’s Pier marks the emergence of a prodigiously gifted new novelist.

Why you want to listen to it
You can listen to Scarlett’s distinctive voice for approximately 5 hours. It is not exactly an acting performance but she does change her voice when reading dialogue between different people.

Review: The selection of 17-year-old Scarlett Johansson turned out to be wise and winning. Her distinctively wistful voice, with its tendency to gently crack, adds vital notes of heartache and heartbreak. Yet it is firm and assured enough to rise the occasion at those moments when Carries’s telling decision-making is in the tale’s foreground. – from Barnes & Noble.

Author: Ann Packer’s story have appeared in The New Yorker and Prize Stories 1992: The O. Henry Awards. She is the author of Mendocino and Other Stories and lives in Northern California with her husband and two children.