The Guilt We Carry
Within her heart and mind Alice will never forget that fateful night when she babysat her little brother Jason. At 15 she was given the responsibility and although her parents hesitated, she managed to pass the first tests, but this time Jason became out of control and painted the walls of her room in an odd way and then decided to hide in the washer drier and died. Searching for him and finding him there made Alice revert to another person and her mother disown her in heart, mind and soul. Living in her house was like being invisible and the guilt she felt in 2005 spilled over in 2011 as her life took many downward turns and she became someone else. Drinking her way through life to escape reality and deal with the real world, working in a bar we next see her in a motel room with her boss who for some reason winds up dead. But, that’s just the beginning of the string of bodies that she leaves on her journey to escape her life, get away from the drug dealers that her boss Terry owed money to and the result might take her so far down she might never see the real light again.
The plot alternates between two time periods allowing us the get to know Alice in two different lights yet both the same in many respects. Hiding away and hoping to find a place for herself she meets an elderly man while hoping to find shelter from the pouring rain. In the present of 2011 she works for a man named Terry and finds herself having to deal with his death and the death of four others sending her on the road to escape. But she escapes through drinking and becomes so disoriented that at times she does not even realize where she is or what she can do until she is on a train, sees a young girl named Delilah and finds herself as her refuge and saves her from a fate that would or might bring them together. Her young friend appears fragile, timid and scared yet inside her purse was something that would save them for a moment from the drug dealers that followed them to their motel as they wanted the 91,000 dollars that Alice took from Terry’s room hoping it would be her ticket to a better life. Ernie the assistant manager of the motel she just left bared the consequences of knowing her. Anyone in her wake paid dearly and she showed no remorse at times and her attitude seemed tough but in reality she just wanted to be loved and accepted as the author related her true feelings about leaving her home, her mother’s attitude of making her feel unwanted since her brother’s death never realizing that it was tragic, she was watching him but Jason did place himself in danger by himself.
When Alice realizes that her options are limited and Delilah and she had to move again she decided to head back to her hometown and Elton but the end result will enlighten young adults to the pitfalls of hitchhiking, trusting strangers and the fact that Delilah was on the radar of the police as a missing young girl. Things change when they are staying with Elton who is kind, understanding and along with Alice and her companion share their fears, their guilt and he explains that hanging on to guilt will not let you get past it and you need to move ahead even though the guilt remains as sadness. When Alice explains how Jason died, was it really her fault? When Delilah explains why she ran away is she guilty of a crime would you agree or disagree with what she did? What about Elton who was guilty for not pushing his friend to see a doctor sooner but can you make someone do something they don’t feel is necessary?
The drug dealers somehow found them and with the help of her parents who unknowingly assisted them and the help of someone in the bar they managed to show up at Elton’s doorstep and the final scenes will allow readers to wonder the fate of everyone involved and who is responsible for the deaths of so many and just who was left alive.
Sinclair is the main dealer who found Alice and their encounter at the end was so well crafted, vividly described as was the weather, the terrain and the climate in each scene that the reader can feel the cold, the heat and the temperatures rising and the torrential downpours as Alice proves to everyone that she is smart, astute and quite cunning but at the end who is left watching the final result?
The Guilt We Carry is one that everyone can identify with as everyone has something they feel they should have done better, could have done in a different way and if someone asked Alice would she run away again, would she take the money she found, would she take care of Delilah, would she put Elton in danger again and what about her parents why did they desert her what would they say? A thought provoking and unusual novel that places many people in danger, that involves many layers of thought within Alice a young woman who just wants to have a better life, be loved and accepted. But, will that ever happen? Author Samuel W. Gailey allows readers to inside themselves for the same answers to the questions that they might wonder if Alice asked herself.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine/MJ network