Carry Me Home

Publisher Comments:

A book Sense Notable pick and a 2005 Midwest booksellers’ Choice Award nominee.

1940. Rural Wisconsin. Sixteen-year-old Earl “Earwig” Gunderman is not like other boys his age. Fiercely protected by his older brother, Earwig sees his town and the world around him through the prism of his own unique understanding. He sees his mother’s sadness and his father’s growing solitude. He sees his brother, Jimmy, falling in love with the most beautiful girl in town. And while Earwig is unable to make change for customers at his family’s store, he is singularly well suited to understand what other people in his town cannot: that life as they know it is about to change; the coming war will touch them all.
For Jimmy will enlist in the military. And Earwig will watch his parents’ marriage buckle under the strain of a family secret. And when Jimmy returns — a fractured shadow of his former self — it is Earwig’s turn to care for him. His struggles to right the wrongs visited upon his revered older brother by war, women, and life are at once heartwarming and riotously funny. Their family and town irrevocably altered, Earwig and Jimmy fight to find their own places in a world changed forever.


"Earnestly narrated by brain-damaged 16-year-old Earl 'Earwig' Gunderman ('Ma said that after the fever was gone, my brain was like meat cooked too long, and it just fell apart whenever I tried to learn something new'), Kring's heartfelt debut explores the effects of WWII on a smalltown Wisconsin family. Earwig, whose intellectual difficulties are balanced by his sharp emotional intelligence, gets a significant assist in the growing-up process from his older brother, Jimmy. But after enlisting in the National Guard on a drunken whim, Jimmy is shipped out with one of the first ill-equipped units to be sent to the Philippines. When his unit is overrun in Bataan, his fate is assumed to be grim. At home, Earwig sighs about rationing, discovers a dark family secret and hopes for Jimmy's safe return. And Jimmy does come home, but, shell-shocked after years as a POW, he drowns his sorrows in drink. It takes Earwig's devotion and a tender new relationship with young widow Eva Leigh to turn him around. Kring's narrative is familiar at first, but hits its stride after Jimmy's homecoming, capturing family tensions and the divisive town dynamics when Jimmy and his fellow soldiers criticize the government for abandoning them in Bataan. Strong characters, a clear community portrait and a memorable protagonist whose poignant fumblings cloak an innocent wisdom demonstrate Kring's promise. Agent, Catherine Fowler." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

"Heartfelt.... Strong characters, a clear community portrait and a memorable protagonist whose poignant fumblings cloak an innocent wisdom demonstrate Kring’s promise."
-- Publishers Weekly

"Sandra Kring weaves an intricate and heartwarming tale of family, love, and forgiveness in her sensational debut novel…Kring’s passionate voice is reminiscent of Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck…She will make you laugh, have you in tears, and take you back to the days of good friends, good times, millponds, and bonfires. This is a piece destined to become a classic and a must-read for devotees of the historical fiction or the literary fiction genre."
-- Midwest Book Review (five stars)

"Touching…surprisingly poignant…builds to an emotional crescendo…The book becomes so engrossing that it’s tough to see it end."
-- Washington Post

"Sandra Kring writes with such passion and immediacy, spinning us back in time, making us feel the characters’ hope, desire, laughter, sorrow, and redemption. I read this novel straight through and never wanted it to end."
-- Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author of Last Kiss.

"Earwig Gunderman will capture your heart and challenge your conscience…Carry Me Home is a plainspoken, nostalgic account set in the 1940s, but the story of a brother’s love, and the healing powers of family and community in the aftermath of tragedy, is timeless."
-- Tawni O’Dell, New York Times bestselling author of Sister Mine