When you lose someone close to you, whether it’s by tragedy, distance, or simply drifting apart, you usually go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Many people can deal with their grief, but for some, counseling or support groups offer people solace and comfort, a chance to talk about their loss and work through the grieving process together. In Joy Argento’s newest novel, Carrie And Hope, a support group serves as the jumping off point for Carrie and Hope, an unlikely pair of women with two very different reasons for being at the support group.
When we meet both women, neither one is thrilled about walking in to the support group and sharing her story with a bunch of strangers. One feels the simple act of her being at the meeting means she’s given up all hope; the other is there out of obligation and nothing more. Shortly after the support group starts, the women realize they won’t find any closure at the meeting, so they duck out and go for drinks. As they bonded over drinks and conversation, it reminded me of old friends catching up after a long absence. Nothing about their relationship seemed forced, and Argento does a phenomenal job drawing the reader in to Carrie and Hope’s individual stories as well as their relationship with each other.
What started out as a budding friendship slowly develops into more, but both women are hesitant to go any further. What holds them back is also what draws them closer together: neither woman has ever had a relationship with a woman before. Once the attraction becomes obvious, Carrie and Hope must not only deal with their romance, but also with the realities of their lives. Is their relationship strong enough to survive the pressures of the real world?
What really struck me about Joy Argento’s novel, Carrie and Hope, was how true-to-life the relationship between the main characters is. There’s no whirlwind romance, no glass slipper, just casual conversations, a lot of laughs, and the support each woman shows for each other in their respective times of need. From their first conversation in the bar, Carrie and Hope seem like old friends reconnecting after time apart. While each woman leads a separate life and has her own grief to work through, it’s the connection both women share with each other, the comfort and support, that really defines their relationship and ultimately helps both women come to terms with what she has lost and how much she has gained.
While Carrie and Hope was a heartfelt story of two women finding comfort with each other and peace with their respective situations, the lack of careful editing prevented this from being a truly wonderful novel. With a bit of proofreading, and maybe a red pen or two, Joy Argento’s novel would be one I would highly recommend.