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Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt) by Heidi Cullinan – Book Review

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shelter the sea

“The problem is, a lot happens when people don’t regard you as a real person. They think they can ignore you, and worse, they think they can use you.”

When I read Carry the Ocean two years ago, I loved it from the bottom of my heart. The book and its characters lingered with me for a long time. It felt incredible seeing someone with anxiety facing daily challenges and coming out stronger. Every time I dealt with anxiety in my own life, I remembered Jeremey, and I felt comforted, knowing I was not alone. This is the kind of impact books can have on people. For that reason, and many others, I adore this series.

Shelter the Sea is the sequel following Emmet and Jeremey from the first book. It follows the events right after the ending, and it explores a more political struggle overall. Emmet has a great job and Jeremey is still David’s aide, and the two of them are still in a very loving, healthy relationship. But problems arise when the building they live in, The Roosevelt, faces financial difficulties. This is the story about how Emmet, Jeremey, David, and now Darren–their lovely new friend–work together to help the Roosevelt, and fight to stop a bill that would only harm people with special needs and mental health problems.

Getting back into this world after two years was a breeze. I instantly remembered every character and their unique personalities, along with most of the major events from the first book. This is unusual for me because I usually forget what I read, even if I love it more than anything. Reliving Emmet and Jeremey’s love was the sweetest thing ever. Even though I had already loved them before, I grew to love them even more in this book. Emmet became the face of their public fight, and he was a hero to many other people with autism. Regardless of the level of difficulties he faced, Emmet shone through until the very end. I was so proud of him. And of course, Jeremey was not left behind. His depression got really bad, and it was a fight that seemed impossible, until it wasn’t. I was relieved to know he was getting better.

There’s a lot of diversity in this book, which I really appreciated. I love the issues Cullinan discussed so bluntly, things that shouldn’t just be brushed over. The political issues resonated with me the most, especially because in our current political climate, people with mental health issues and disabilities rank lower than most people. The message spread in this book is one of inclusivity and hope for equality.

“To be honest the fact that we had to lip sync and dance and I had to keep giving speeches and put Darren’s and my autism and David’s quadriplegia and Jeremey’s social anxiety on display to get people’s attention made me realize how much people had been ignoring us all this time.”

The addition of Darren to the group made me so happy. I loved that Darren was given a voice even though he struggled with verbal speech. Rather than simply pushing him aside, he was given the spotlight a few times, and his intelligence was put to good use. I’m looking forward to rest of the books in the series, which will follow David and Darren closely. I really want a happy ending for all of my Roosevelt Blues Brothers. They’re some of my favorite characters of all time.

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Character Spotlight #6

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Name: Emmet David Washington

Book: Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan

Get to Know Him: Emmet is the smartest nineteen-year old I’ve ever read about. He studies physics, he’s five feet nine, has dark hair and blue-gray eyes. His favorite movie is The Blues Brothers. He loves looking at trains, counting things, computer coding, math, and boys. He is also an optimistic, joyful individual, and he has autism.

Why I Love Him: I don’t think I’ve ever read about someone as fascinating as Emmet. This boy is so blunt and so funny and so sweet. Through Emmet I gained insight on many subjects. Emmet taught me how important it is to love people openly, the way he does. I learned that mental illness is a serious issue but it’s not something that should keep you from living life to the fullest. I learned that people aren’t broken, therefore don’t need to be fixed. I was introduced to The Blues Brothers and I’ll never look back. But most importantly, Emmet taught me how to laugh after a long day of my reality. I think what I’m trying to say is he is very important to me, and I adore him.

Favorite Quote: “There is no normal, not really. Not a right and a wrong way to be. But there is belonging.”

Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan – Book Review

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I’m still trying to make sense of the awesomeness I just read.

“Everyone is different. Nothing in the world is the same as anything else, so how can anyone be normal?” 

I have no words. Carry the Ocean stole them all from me. This is the story of two boys. Emmet, who is an intelligent, lovely, autistic boy. And Jeremey, a shy, kind boy with severe depression and anxiety. Much of this story deals with both of their mental issues and the way they deal with them. It’s highly informative and it touches on very interesting subjects. I could relate to everything the characters were going through. I could empathize, and I could love them as much as they deserved to be loved.

Throughout the book, Emmet and Jeremey share a special relationship. It really brings the book together, they way these two boys care for each other. They truly understand one another, and it was a delight to read about their adventures as well as their struggles.

“People are good medicine, but they can’t be your foundation of functionality. You must build that yourself.”

I adored the way Jeremey overcame many of his obstacles. With the help of the wonderful people in his life, he was able to take on challenges that had been torturing him for a while. All I wanted was to protect that boy. I wanted to take all of his pain away. In the same way I wanted Emmet to succeed and be as happy as can be. His frankness was both endearing and hilarious. He was the most uplifting presence at times. At one point in the story, it hit me how much I loved these characters. It hit me so suddenly and I didn’t know what to do with this discovery.

“That’s the big thing I learned this year: it’s okay to go slow. That everybody else’s pace and definition of success isn’t mine. What is easy for other people isn’t necessarily so for me. Though some things are easy for me and hard for other people.” 

The only thing I can do is just recommend this to everyone out there. I was able to laugh, cry, and experience so many things in this novel. I read it slowly because the characters’ anxiety gave me anxiety, but once I overcame that it was a breeze. It was just all-around great. I can’t wait for more Emmet and Jeremey and my new favorite, David. Now I’ll have to watch the Blues Brothers!

“It’s like Elwood Blues says: everybody needs somebody to love. I’m an everybody. I get a somebody.”