Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story

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9781442358546: Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story

In this beautiful and poignant tribute to her late daughter, award-winning actress and New York Times bestselling author Carol Burnett presents a funny and moving memoir about mothering an extraordinary young woman through the struggles and triumphs of her life.

Despite her busy schedule, Carol Burnett always made time for her three young children. But her oldest daughter, Carrie, faltered in adolescence, losing the self-esteem that had fueled her popularity and success in school and hiding her pain in a downward spiral of addiction. As Carrie became lost to drugs, Carol found herself with a daughter in grave danger and a marriage that was bending under the pressure.

Carrie eventually broke free from her addiction. Like her mother, she had a wonderful sense of humor and became a successful actress, singer, and writer, even writing a play about Carol’s childhood. But tragedy struck again when Carrie was diagnosed with cancer. She died at the young age of thirty-eight, leaving a legacy of kindness, creativity, and joy along with a short story that mirrors her own journey, published for the first time in this book.

In Carrie and Me, Carol Burnett shares her personal diary entries and correspondence revealing her anguish as a mother of a troubled teenager, the epiphanies that helped her help her family, and the grief and then the hope she felt after Carrie’s death. Through Burnett’s inimitable voice, we get a portrait of an unforgettable young woman that will bring hope to anyone struggling with raising or losing a child.

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About the Author:

Carol Burnett is widely recognized by the public and her peers for her work on stage and screen, most notably The Carol Burnett Show, which was named in 2007 by Time magazine as one of “100 Best Television Shows of All Time.” As a highly acclaimed actress for her comedic and dramatic roles on television, film, and Broadway, Carol has been honored with twelve People’s Choice Awards, eight Golden Globes, six Emmy Awards, the Horatio Alger Award, the Peabody Award, and the Ace Award. She has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is a Kennedy Center honoree, and has been inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. Carol has also penned two New York Times bestsellers.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Carrie and Me PREFACE


In late 2000, my daughter Carrie Hamilton was working on a story, “Sunrise in Memphis,” writing in her small Colorado cabin. The story was about a bohemian girl’s strange road trip to Elvis’s Graceland with a mysterious cowboy. Carrie planned to turn it into a screenplay eventually. Because she felt a kinship with Kate, her main character, Carrie (being a free spirit and somewhat bohemian herself) decided to hit the road and take the same trip for research purposes.

So she got out her maps, filled the gas tank in her Jeep, and headed south toward Memphis. She e-mailed me fresh pages of the story almost daily, along with tales of her own adventures on her journey to Graceland. As a side trip, Carrie visited our family’s old stomping grounds in San Antonio, Texas, and Belleville, Arkansas, since the two of us were writing a play together based on my family, who came from those parts of the country.

Carrie didn’t live to finish either project. She died of cancer a little over a year later at the age of thirty-eight.

This book has taken me on a bittersweet journey. When she was in the hospital for the last time, Carrie asked me to finish “Sunrise in Memphis” for her, which I haven’t been able to do. Try as I might, the characters in the story were hers to write, not mine. Carrie’s request had been living with me for over ten years when I finally figured out what I could do.

Fortunately, I had saved all of the letters and e-mails we wrote to each other during her road trip to Memphis. In Part One of this book I’ve combined that correspondence with my own memories. These include a few episodes I’ve written about before, but I feel they bear repeating to round out the order of events. I’ve also written here about Carrie’s brave fight against her illness. Part Two is Carrie’s story “Sunrise in Memphis,” which is fun to read in its own right, but also eerily echoes Carrie’s journey.

This book is my way of honoring her last request, bringing to the page many of Carrie’s thoughts and feelings and also my own journey with her, including all the ups and downs in the early years (which got pretty bumpy when Carrie became a teenager).

Carrie was widely known as a magnetic young woman with a stunning smile, an infectious laugh, a throaty voice, and the soul of a poet. She was someone who cared deeply for others, particularly for those less fortunate. Whenever a homeless person approached her, she would offer them a deal: five dollars if they told her their story. As you’ll see, Carrie used those stories, and the personal narratives shared with her by everyone she met, as inspiration for her prose, her poetry, her music, her lyrics, and her acting. Carrie piled so much into her young life that one can only imagine what she would have tackled and accomplished in the second half.

For myself, I hope you will get to know the daughter I loved and cherished. I can honestly say that just about everyone who knew Carrie loved her. Maybe that’s because she loved them right back.

I also hope I’ve succeeded in bringing Carrie’s essence to these pages. I treasure her words, and even after reading them again and again, each time I am grateful for the reminder that she has never left me.

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