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     by King, Stephen


Carrie White had always been the school outcast, bullied by nearly everyone. It wasn't just because she was the only child of a fanatically religious mother. Carrie was just odd, different in a way that made other kids pick her to be their scapegoat. For a long time, no one, not even Carrie herself, realized exactly how different she was. Her telekinetic powers (the ability to move objects with her mind) had been dormant for many years, until the onset of puberty. For ordinary girls, the start of menstruation is not usually traumatic, but for Carrie it was. Carrie's mother had never educated her daughter about what to expect. When Carrie--at age sixteen--got her first period in the shower after gym class, she thought she was bleeding to death. The other girls subjected her to a brutal hazing of taunts and laughter. The emotional stress of this event brought Carrie's telekinesis to the fore. Eventually, she realized she could control her power somewhat, although it was stronger when she was under emotional stress. Therefore, as the bullying became worse, Carrie's capacity for revenge also increased. 

Although Carrie is the "monster" in this tale by Stephen King, the true horror lies in his depiction of the cruelty to which children and teens often subject their outcast peers. The 1999 paperback reprint of the novel features Stephen King's moving introduction in which he discusses the real-life young women on whom he based Carrie White. Carrie was Stephen King's first horror novel. Published in 1974, it was made into an acclaimed film starring Sissy Spacek in 1976.

Reviewed by mh, 2/01. Other reviews by mh.