Carrie is the disturbing story of a teenage girl who was cruelly bullied at school leading to a dramatic prom night. Carrie was King’s first novel, written in his trailer, which later became a movie. After reading King’s Firestarter for our October book club, I was inspired to listen to this novel aptly narrated by Sissy Spacek.
The prequel, read by King, shared that Carrie was the amalgamation of two girls that he had known in high school. Both girls died young. Both had been shunned. One girl came to school in the same clothes everyday and the other lived with a religious fanatic. Both had been bullied. Carrie was modelled after these girls that he had never forgotten.
King shared that in the early 1970s he was supplementing his income writing short stories when he thought of the idea for Carrie. He wrote three pages before throwing them in the garbage only to be rescued by his wife Tabitha. These 3 pages led King’s first published novel in 1974.
Carrie had a sad life. She grew up with her mother who was fanatically religious. Her mother delivered long sermons, corporal punishment and punishment included lengthy periods being locked in the closet to repent her sins. Carrie was initially sent to school carrying a bible and her peers quickly realized she was different and began their years of abuse.
The story begins in a high school changeroom where Carrie is shocked to get her first period (her mother had never prepared her) and is afraid she is bleeding to death. The girls treat her terribly, throwing pads and tampons at her until, laughing and yelling at her until the gym teacher comes to her rescue.
As Carrie physically develops she also discovers that she has telekinetic powers. She slowly experiments with her talent as she learns to control it. Her power seems to grow in periods of stress and anger.
One of the perpetrators feels great remorse, and after being banned from the prom, convinces her own boyfriend to ask Carrie to attend. In an act of hope, Carrie sews a beautiful gown and shyly attends despite her mother’s anger. Unfortunately, the cruelty of others leads to a crescendo of devastating events.
In an effort to avoid a spoiler, I will not describe the book any further but like Eleanor and Park, it shows the brutal nature of teenagers. The dumb teenage pranks are not harmless, the bullying can lead to terrible situations. I enjoyed listening to both King’s thoughts on his first published novel and the story. This novel began his legacy of writing which now includes 54 novels.