When I first got my copy of Always Smile, I had planned to take my time reading it and to do it in chunks. Growing up with Sammy as one of my closest friends, I lived through the years portrayed in the book and knew it would be an emotional read. I was so immersed in the book once I started to read, that before I could even remember to take a break, I was almost finished.
I sent a text to Sammy and her cousin Erin at 5:22pm about something funny on page 2, and by 8:30pm I only had 30 pages left,
Which is where I stopped reading as I know how the ending goes.
I cried, laughed, and at times did both, throughout the book. Yes, certain parts reminded me of harder memories, and yes there are sadder sections, but I found the book jogged my memory on many funny and happy memories. Afterwards when I was reflecting on the book and Calrey to send an email to the Allisons, I realized that most of the memories I was reminded of were all happy ones. For example, the book goes into detail about a trip to the mall Carley took with some friends and May. While Carley and May were out of the house, Sammy and I were attempting to choreograph our pairs routine for that year’s Skating Club Championship.l May and Carley arrived home from the mall to find Sammy and I attempting (the key word there is attempting) to do a pairs spin, which resulted in us collapsing onto the floor in laughter. Riley and Carley tried to coach us how to do it properly. Before I even met Sammy, I looked up to and admired Riley and Carley at skating. Spending Sundays with Sammy working on our routines, with guest coaching from the reining club pairs champions (Riley and Carley) will remain some of my favourite memories.
The two things I loved the most about the book were the accuracy of it, even in regards to microscopic details, and that in a way Carley wrote the book herself. Sammy and I spend a lot of time together, and I spend a lot of time at the Allison’s house, so I know them quite well. Throughout the book Alice described details of the Allison family, their house, and their life that are so specific, and so correct. For example, she mentions that the house frequently smells like muffins, as May is always making muffins for the family, and any extended family or friends that may be in the house. Although this detail was mentioned in only one line at the very beginning, and is incredibly minor, it is a very accurate detail. (Anyone who knows this smell can also attest to how delicious her muffins are!). Throughout the book I noticed small details that others may not pick up on, but that anyone who knows the Allison family can recognize as being very true to their family, and their lives. Alice’s attention to detail is exquisite, and provides deep and accurate insight into Carley’s life. Similarly, the way the book is laid out really allows Calrey to tell her own story, with the assistance of the people closest to her and Alice’s very accurate supplemental writing. I love how readers can hear her story from her words, and how the book is so authentically Carley.
For those of us lucky enough to know Calrey, we know how special she was. But for people that weren’t so lucky, this book is such an amazing way to learn so much about her on a truly personal level. And for those who never met her but have already been touched by her this book is a brilliant medium to continue to be inspired by her.
As always, she continues to inspire myself, and so many others, by her outlook on and how she lived her life. My favourite quote in the book was said by Sammy, saying how Carley would want to be remembered for how she lived her life, and not by how it ended. I think Always Smile does a perfect job, encouraging people to remember her in this way, by showing how much she lived, loved, and of course, smiled.
Written By: Elizabeth Talbot
To purchase your own copy of ‘Always Smile’ CLICK HERE