Audiobook Review: Carrie and Me

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Just looking at this cover, you cannot help but smile!

Carol Burnett was one of the funniest people from my childhood!  I remember getting  to stay up past my bedtime to watch the Carol Burnett Show with my parents. The impromptu fits of laughter by the cast, Scarlett O’Hara with the curtain rod dress, Mamma’s family, the looks Carol made at the camera– it was HIL-AR-I-OUS! Just thinking of the laughs that erupted from our house on those nights brings back fond memories and I always have to smile! I was really excited to listen to this audiobook narrated by Carol Burnett herself.

“More than anything, we are remembered for our smiles: the ones we share with our closest and dearest, and the one we bestow on a total stranger who needs it right then, and God has put us there to deliver.” — Carrie Hamilton

You are about to meet an extraordinary young woman, Carrie Hamilton. The daughter of one of television’s most recognizable and beloved stars, Carol Burnett, Carrie won the hearts of everyone she met with her kindness, quirky sense of humor, and wonderfully unconventional approach to life. Living in the spotlight of celebrity, but in an era when personal troubles were kept private, Carrie and Carol made a brave display of honesty and love by going public with teenager Carrie’s drug addiction and recovery. Carrie lived her adult life of sobriety to the fullest, enjoying happy and determined independence and achieving a successful artistic career as an actress, writer, musician, and director. Carrie’s passion for life and her humorist’s view of the world never wavered as she aggressively battled cancer. Carrie died at the age of 38.

Carrie and Me is Carol Burnett’s poignant tribute to her late daughter and a funny and moving memoir about mothering an extraordinary young woman through the struggles and triumphs of her life. Sharing her personal diary entries, photographs, and correspondence, Carol traces the journey she and Carrie took through some of life’s toughest challenges and sweetest miracles. Authentic, intimate, and full of love, Carrie and Me is a story of hope and joy that only a mother could write.

I was looking forward to hearing all about how this mother/daughter duo overcame the difficult trial of drug addiction and really getting to know Carrie (who has been gone for over 10 years now) but the truth is– the story was a bit too quick to really feel much of anything. By the end of the first disk Carrie had been born, had a couple of funny moments as a child, was addicted to drugs by the age of 13 and was recovered by age 19– it was less than an hour of audio time. The next 2 and a half disks were made up of songs and poems written by Carrie (she was a musician, a poet and at the end of her life was writing her first novel) and back and forward emails and letters between Carrie and her mother. You could tell that they ended up being very close to each other despite their rocky relationship during the teenage turmoil. Some of the letters included their early ideas for Hollywood Arms, a Broadway play that they wrote together, which was pretty cool to read.

The last disk and a half was Carrie’s unfinished novel titled Sunrise in Memphis— a story about a tough as nails punker girl who travels to Graceland with a cowboy (who may or may not have been Jesus– there is this big plane crash thing that goes on– but who knows?). It was Carrie’s dying wish to have Carol finish the novel and publish it but Carol felt that she could not do it justice and left it as was. The story really was unfinished– a skeleton of an idea more than an actual novel– but Carol fulfilled half of the promise at least and got it published!Fame

Carrie was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer (from SMOKING) in 2000 and true to being the daughter of Carol Burnett she used humour to deal with it (like naming the tumour Ralph). She tried to stay upbeat and positive about it all, convinced that she would be able to fight it off in the end. My heart did absolutely break listening to Carol tell of the diagnosis, aggressive treatment and eventual death of her beloved daughter– any mother’s would. What an awful thing to out live your child!

Carol has written 2 other books/autobiographies (which I have not read)– One More Time is about her difficult life growing up in a family of alcoholics and This Time Together is an over all autobiography that, perhaps, has more of the details I was looking for in Carrie and Me. I will have to give them a try because I did enjoy the breezy way she told a story. Thanks to Simon and Schuster Audio and Audio Jukebox for sending us this audiobook to review. I think Penny is going to listen next because she LOVED Carrie in Fame! 3 stars from me.