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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027
Carrie - Stephen King I’m very open about that fact that I was bullied through the majority of my mandatory school years, starting from about second grade to when I was sixteen and moved away. I should also point out that I was 12 when Columbine happened and I did actually watch the news reports as it unfolded. Nothing ever occurred in my school, although I knew people who were suspended over suspected or confirmed hit lists, and that there were bomb threats. And while I’m not a violent person, I did get teased about making my own lists and eventually snapping one day. I’ve also had incidents were I was being tormented in front of teachers or administrators and either the blame would been placed on me or outright ignored.I bring all of that up because there’s a lot of people I know or heard that they did find comfort in reading Carrie. I’m one of them. It’s not say that everyone who reads this book is going to sit there and say “Yes, this is perfect! I should go kill everyone who’s ever teased!” But I will sit here and say that no, this is what happens when someone is pushed that far and they do snap. And while no one has telekinesis and can wreck that sort of destruction, there are many real life accounts of what happens when teenagers snap when they’ve been pushed too far. (I wanna stop and point out that in On Writing, King compares Carrie White to Columbine’s Keblod and Harris, which is something I disagree with, since most accounts point out that the shooters were disturbed and bullying wasn’t as big of a factor as initially believed. Carrie is someone who just snapped because of somebody’s incredibly cruel actions after a lifetime of being bullied, not only at school but by her mother as well.)Carrie White is the hero antagonist. You can’t help but feel sorry for her, to want her to step out and shine and be accepted for once. You want her to get out under her mother’s thumb and be happy. Her whole time spent at prom is so heartbreaking because—whether or not you want to believe Tommy Ross’s friends are being nice to her just because “Okay, well, if we have to” or if they’re actually discovering that “Hey, Carrie’s actually good people.” And then one girl who’s the epitome of what I define as a mean girl has to ruin it because she didn’t get her way. (You have no idea how glad I am I never ran into a Chris Hargensen in school.) And even in death, only a few people regard Carrie as a victim, notably Sue Snell. There’s a line in the various documents that compromise the book’s narration where one of the townspeople say “Well, what if there’s more people like her out there? Who’s going to save us?”, completely casting the blame on the idea of the ‘other.’ She’s not like us, so she’s dangerous. Which brings me to Sue Snell and Ms. Desjardin. Sue, I find extremely sympathetic because she realizes that she can’t be the bystander anymore and just let Carrie be tormented, even if they only do have one month in school together. It’s played up as Sue’s atonement for the entire book, but I liked that she and Tommy are willing to reach out to this broken girl and at least give her one good memory of high school. I ought to note that as I’ve been rereading all this Stephen King, I’ve been harping on the fact he can’t write young women well. This is an exception, and I attribute a lot of that to his wife for stepping in and helping him with the depiction. Teenage girls are nasty pieces of work; again, something I know too well. Ms. Desjardin is presumably on her own method of atonement, and I love the scene where she calls out all of the other girls for being horrible. I don’t like the fact that she thinks that Carrie deserves to be slapped around and just needs to improve herself. (Just a tangent, but I’ve seen a bit of Rage: Carrie 2—which is a horrible movie for the record…but I liked that they brought back Sue Snell as a high school guidance counselor. Presumably to fulfill the role Ms. Desjardin couldn’t.)But let’s not ignore the other major factor in what makes Carrie snap: her mother. There are two people in this novel that I just wanted to see get their comeuppance: Chris Hargensen and Margaret White. I mean, I do feel a little sorry for that her husband did rape her, but oh God. Margaret White is what happens when people snap, especially since we really don’t get concrete evidence of why she’s so extremist. There’s hints, but never any real confirmation. And just what she does to Carrie…I think the scene when Carrie insists that she’s going to go to prom is way more powerful than their confrontation at the end. Just because by the end, you know how it’s going to go and Carrie being able to stand up for herself for once, and especially toward the more dominant force in her life more notable. For me at least.I should also point out that the way the book is structured is kind of odd, alternating between various sources detailing Carrie’s life and the night of the ‘Black Prom’ and studies into psychic activity, with straight narration for the present actions. But it actually works for me, especially when you get the AP Wire of the school blowing up and people are scrambling to figure out what happened. My only real complaint about that is some of the timeline is really off—you find out when Carrie died first, and then it jumps back to her killing Chris or Sue running around or all the townspeople coming out to find out what the hell is going on. It’s not as bad on a reread, but for a first time reader, it would be confusing.To be very honest, I do feel a more personal connection with the book because of my own experiences. (Which I would argue that finding a personal connection makes a book better.) But that’s exactly what I like about it, and knowing that this is just an extreme example. There’s a quote I’ve heard about having a revenge fantasy such as Carrie being available does provide some catharsis for the people who have gone through that sort of thing. Not that it’s a good thing, but some times you do need the fantasy to prevent from enacting it in the reality.