The Dive From Clausen’s Pier: Ann Packer

★★★

Ann Packer’s The Dive From Clausen’s Pier is the agonizing story of a young woman’s harsh transition to independent adulthood. When Carrie’s fiance, Mike – with whom she’s been in a relationship since high school – dives from a pier into shallow water and breaks his neck, she must face decisions about her life and relationship that – until now – she’s been able to sweep under the rug.

The Dive from Clausen's Pier, Ann Packer

Carrie grapples with what her life will look like in a future with quadriplegic Mike in her small hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Does she want to be with Mike? Does she even love him anymore? What more is beyond Madison, where she knows everyone – and where everyone knows what has happened to her?

She’s drifting away from her family, fiance, and friends – spending more and more time in seclusion. She’s stopped going to her job at the library. Something has to change. What will Carrie do about her life, if anything?

The Dive From Clausen’s Pier is a painfully realistic story of the most pivotal year in one young woman’s life that will touch your heart, but that will also leave you frustrated at Carrie’s stagnation and lack of self confidence.

Content Warnings

Please take caution when reading The Dive From Clausen’s Pier if any of the following topics may trigger you:

  • Ableism

My Thoughts

I really enjoyed The Dive From Clausen’s Pier. I think Packer does an amazing job of creating a story that can be easily identified with. Her writing is practical, just like Carrie and her life. The writing, and the book itself, are no nonsense, straight to the point, and practical. I like this about the book, and think it fits very well with the story that she tells.

I’ve heard The Dive From Clausen’s Pier described as mundane, which I understand but don’t agree with. Packer tells the story of a pivotal year in Carrie’s life, the mundane included. The plot is Carrie’s day to day life throughout the year, during which she has to make big decisions – there’s no huge shock or awe.

Carrie spends this year of her life coping with the crushing realities of adulthood, including outgrowing friends and lovers, understanding parents in a new and uncomfortable way, a lack of purpose and passion, and the ever-present requirement of money. Her low self-esteem coupled with her indecisiveness and utter paralysis in working toward a fulfilling life are extremely frustrating to read, but are very real.

The Dive From Clausen’s Pier takes the story one day at a time, and thus is not fast-paced. Sometimes, almost nothing is actually happening in the story other than Carrie’s ever-present stagnation. It’s fascinating and infuriating, and I enjoyed it.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on The Dive From Clausen’s Pier. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya.

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