Carrie and Emma are sisters crucial to each other's survival in a volatile family. After their father is brutally murdered, their mother is plunged into a depression she never fully recovers from. During the following weeks and months, Carrie and Emma learn to rely on each other in their neglectful home.
Their mother finally emerges from her darkened bedroom to a stark reality. She meets and marries Richard, an abusive, alcoholic who only manages to hide his true self long enough to become husband and step-father. Once the abuse starts, it quickly escalates and becomes more dangerous and more cruel with each episode. Carrie and Emma often have to fend for themselves, with a little help from kindly town folk.
Carrie and Emma decide their best chance for survival is to run away. The young girls set off on a trek across the woods. While it seemed their situation could not possibly get worse, it does when they are found by Richard and marched back home by gunpoint. The punishment from Richard is nearly unbearable, made worse by going seemingly unnoticed by their mother.
The family moves to another, even smaller town. The family continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. Carrie and Emma get small bits of respite from an elderly neighbor who discovers and helps develop an unusual talent in Carrie. One night, the crash that the family has been headed for, finally comes. An explosion of violence, truth and reality hits full force.
This report prepared by Rhonda S. Hough
Mira, Sep 2004, 12.95, 288 pp.
In North Carolina, eight years old Carrie Parker plays makes believe games with her six years old sister Emma. Except for her dreams and Emma, everything else in her life is dreadful or down right abusive starting with her nasty alcoholic stepfather Richard. Their downtrodden mother fails to protect the girls from Richard's wrath, which does not need anything to trigger it. Emma being the more courageous of the duo receives a greater share of his ire.
When Richard announces they are moving across the state to his new job, Emma and Carrie run away, but their effort fails and results in even harsher treatment by Richard. In their new home, Carrie befriends neighbor Mr. Wilson, who teaches her how to shoot a rifle as a means of protecting herself and Emma from Richard for a confrontation is sure to come one day soon.
ME & EMMA is dark psychological suspense seen through the frightened eyes of Carrie. The story line is a well-written yet gloomy character study that enables the audience to observe more than just Carrie as readers obtain a glimpse of Richard, her mom, Emma, and other cast members, but all seen through Carrie's lens.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner