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Carry Yourself Back to Me Paperback – September 20, 2011

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"Red Skies" by Kay Bratt
From the best-selling author of A Thread Unbroken comes an emotional, hope-filled story that offers a fresh glimpse into the life of a remarkable family. Learn more | See related books

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Editorial Reviews Review

A BEST BOOK of 2011 Amazon Editors’ Pick.

“Deborah Reed takes a long look at love in this graceful novel. The kind of love that ravages and lays waste to her characters, and the kind of love that might finally save us all.”—Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Once Upon a River, and a National Book Award finalist for American Salvage

"Deborah Reed's novel, Carry Yourself Back to Me, marries gorgeous and wise prose with a can't-help-but-read-one-more-chapter plot. In it, Reed weaves a complex story of love and longing that's mysterious, intelligent and full of heart. She had me from page one." –Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

"Deborah Reed writes with stunning precision and grace, and with great insight into the emotional lives of her characters. CARRY YOURSELF BACK TO ME is a suspenseful, entertaining and psychologically complex novel by a gifted new writer." –Andrew Porter, author of The Theory of Light & Matter (Flannery O'Connor Award) and In Between Days

"Written in lush prosaic language, Carry Yourself Back to Me is a study in the range and depth of human emotion, breathing new life into the story of love and loss through the experience of richly-developed characters as they navigate their complex relationships… Reed takes the reader on a narrative journey as lyrical and familiar as the saddest love song.”—PORTLAND BOOK REVIEW

“Reed [writes] beautifully, with a gift for revealing her characters’ pain and strength in equal measures.” —ORLANDO SENTINEL

“Highly recommended… One of the images Reed uses repeatedly and to good effect is that of things being scrubbed clean, refreshed, renewed with a clean(er) slate. And a version of that is what the reader feels upon finishing this book: the mind is filled, yes, but expanded. Reed nudges outward the mind’s corners, broadening the space to fit a new good story.” —BOOKSLUT

“This ain’t no simple love story. It’s more like the story of our lives, rendered up close and very personal. It’s also remarkably akin to how our lives have been put to song by traditional American troubadours, primarily of the Southern variety. That’s not to say Reed’s forlorn tale is the mere literary equivalent of a country song, mind you. But it isn’t very difficult to imagine Patsy Cline or June Carter Cash voicing the sentiments that make this such a compelling debut.” —SUN POST WEEKLY

"Carry Yourself Back To Me is a beautifully written, thoroughly engaging novel. Deborah Reed's prose is lyrical, elegant, and vivid--she is a standout among new American novelists." —Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, and Drinking Closer to Home

"Deborah Reed has written here a novel peopled with real, flesh-and-bone characters—men and women both as good and delightfully flawed as our best friends, our spouses, ourselves. And the icing on this cake is Reed's lucid, lovely prose. Carry Yourself Back to Me is, simply, a pleasure to read." —Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum, author of This Life She's Chosen, and Swimming With Strangers

"Deborah Reed's novel, Carry Yourself Back To Me, tells the compelling story of long-held family secrets, romantic entanglements and a small town murder that starts it all unraveling. With deft humor and insight and a marvelous sense of pacing, Reed explores the limits of trust and loyalty, the enduring nature of family bonds, and the clash between illusions and truth in the quest for lasting love." —Jim Tomlinson, author of Things Kept, Things Left Behind (Iowa Short Fiction Award)

"Deborah Reed writes beautifully about the interlocking puzzles of romantic and family love, and the patterns that play out from generation to generation. While her protagonist is a master of the sad song, Reed achieves a symphonic effect–rich, intense and surprisingly joyful." —Dawn Raffel, author of Carrying The Body, and The Secret Life of Objects

"Gritty, lyrical, and suspenseful. The jealousies, desires, and hopes of the characters feel grippingly real. Reed has written a beautiful book." —Deborah Willis, author of Vanishing and Other Stories (finalist for the Governor General's Award)

From Publishers Weekly

"In her first literary novel, Reed (who writes suspense fiction under the penname Audrey Braun) triumphs with this thoughtful, graceful story of singer/songwriter Annie Walsh. Annie has recently been abandoned by Owen, her cherished lover, and taken refuge at her home in Florida. In addition to heartbreak, Annie must also contend with the troubles of her brother, Calder, who has been accused of a crime of passion. There is a lovely passage on snow, new to Annie, as well as moving account of her first attempt to sing since her world crashed. In a small bar on the eve of Christmas Eve, "she sings about the evening sky going dark, and the sound of her voice is warm and thick and bigger than the room. She sings about a tingle in her bones." The novel's tragedies are deftly drawn, and never maudlin. Readers will enjoy the novel's engaging characters, intricate plot, and beautifully rendered sense of place." --Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (September 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935597671
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935597674
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (299 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,473,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Deborah Reed is the author of the forthcoming novel, Olivay, to be published July 7th, 2015. She is also the author of Things We Set On Fire, about which Tim O' Brien (winner of the National Book Award and author of The Things They Carried) has said, "What a finely made, complex, and wholly engrossing novel this is. The people who inhabit Things We Set on Fire seem to be squeezed into some catastrophic critical mass, like the Big Bang in reverse, and yet the prose is completely under control, precise and lucid, sometimes electric with nuance, sometimes strangely musical, and always convincing. The moral pressures on these characters become almost unbearable, yet the radiance of grace and pardon and understanding shines on. Reed has given us a beautiful book."

Deborah also wrote Carry Yourself Back to Me, a Best Book of 2011 Amazon Editors' Pick, and she is the author of the bestselling thriller, A Small Fortune and its sequel, Fortune's Deadly Descent, under her pen name, Audrey Braun. All of her novels have been translated or are forthcoming in German. Her nonfiction has appeared in journals such as Poets & Writers and The Literarian. Deborah holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing (fiction) and teaches at the Black Forest Writing Seminar at the University of Freiburg, Germany, where she is also co-director of the program. She lives in Manzanita, Oregon. Find out more at her website:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

154 of 160 people found the following review helpful By Geraldine Ahearn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 4, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Annie Walsh, who is a singer and song writer, attempts to erase the pain of a lost love. As she tries to heal from a broken heart, she is also forced to dig into the past of her troubled family. Her distant past will reveal family secrets in a desperate search for answers to a mysterious puzzle. Is Annie's brother involved in the murder, and who is trying to tear her family apart? Will the puzzle be solved in a small town murder, and who will be convicted of the crime? I hughly recommend this novel to all fiction lovers, who enjoy mystery and suspense, combined with romance. Deborah Reed created a Masterpiece of family loyalty, trust, and lasting love. The fascinating story is written in elegant prose, page-after-page. The characters come to life as the author paints a rich, tender, and delicate family portrait of regret and redemption across the generations. The story is delightful, heartwarming, and compelling as the reader craves for more.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. B. Perkins on February 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So I read a lot of great reader reviews on this site and bought it on my kindle. I wanted to love it. I expected to love it. I didn't love it. Maybe this is silly, but I think it helps to like the main character to care about him or her enough throughout the story. I didn't really like Annie. Yes, I get that she was heartbroken, but months later she still doesn't take showers or brush her teeth. She's not nice to anyone. She has people, but she keeps them at arms length. It's hard to understand why, when she runs into Josh, her hot ex, when her cloths and body are unwashed, he wants to see her again. The story does get more complex and there is a lot of disfunction for her to deal with. Owen, the man who broke her heart, is a lost confused soul more than a jerk. OK, he's also a jerk. Her bother, Calder, is a bit dopey, but sweet and he really needs her. I was frustrated with how she kept saying she would go visit him in jail and get him a good lawyer, but didn't go. Eventually, she got her act together and the pieces of the story and it's characters came together. I did read it all the way through, so I can't say it was a bad book at all. I'm just not sure what the rave reviews are about.
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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful By R. Schwenk VINE VOICE on August 18, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Carry Yourself Back to Me is a very entertaining love story, but it is so much more than that. It is a masterful and complex book, one which explores family issues, heartbreak, and love in all stages, and does so with empathy and deep tenderness. It is a compelling and suspenseful story with a satisfying ending. I could not put it down.

The book's protagonist is Annie, a singer song-writer, six months after her long time lover and soul mate has left her, breaking her heart. Meanwhile, her brother Calder has been arrested for a murder that no one who knows him could ever see him committing. Calder has fallen in love with a married woman, and, when her husband is murdered, Calder is arrested purely on motive.

The book unfolds both in the here-and-now and in flashbacks to Annie's childhood. This leads us to see the characters in all their complexity, which is this book's allure: we come to understand the people and their motives.

This book will resonate in readers' minds. They will appreciate that love is presented in all its messiness: there are choices, there are heartaches, and there is forgiveness
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne Anderson on August 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book took me a little while to get into, but after the first few chapters I was hooked. The story just flows from past to present with such ease.

It is the story of Annie Walsh, Singer/Songwriter, who is going through a slump due to being dumped by her boyfriend. I right away thought this was going to be a predictable romantic love story. It is absolutely anything but predictable. Annie is faced with dealing with a brother and his murder charges, a distant mother, even more distant uncle and a blast from the past in the way of a new boyfriend.

The way this author weaves together this story and these characters is remarkable. It takes place in Central Florida, it's Christmas and it is snowing and it is the first time ever for the characters of this novel to see snow. Annie sails through her crisis with her present melting into her past with a satisfying conclusion. This was well worth reading!!
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jayne P. Bowers VINE VOICE on August 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I liked it. I really did. Although at times the story seemed a little contrived, it held me captive until the very last page. Would Owen go or stay? What was the big mystery surrounding Uncle Calder? What was his relationship to the family? Why had Annie stayed away from him so long? For Owen to come back on the day of a huge and extremely rare snow storm seemed symbolic. But then when Detour's death is thrown into the mix, it seemed more than that, more than coincidental. It just didn't ring true.

One of the reasons that I ordered the novel is because the title intrigued me. It's perfect for the book. At first I thought it was Annie's plea to Owen, but as I got involved in all of the complicated relationships, I could see that it might have been Tess speaking to that two-timing Owen, Josh to Annie, Sid to Calder, or Uncle Calder to Annie's mother. The gist of seemed to be that life is complicated and things are not always what they appear to be.

While I wish that the characters had been more fully developed, they were nonetheless an interesting and motley cast. My favorite was Annie with her spunk, big heart, and scrappiness, and Josh's aunt was a close second. While I could sympathize with Calder, I must admit that his tics were a bit annoying. Does anyone have that many? And then there's the mother. Whether her prolonged suffering was because of grief or guilt, I don't know. I do know that I felt sorry for her children and that I was glad that she managed to rally when Calder needed her.

I particularly enjoyed reading the author's descriptions of nature scenes. She made it easy to visualize Annie frantically trying to rescue the tangelos before the snow came.
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