Whether a writer publishes one novel or many, a writer’s first can leave a lasting impression on those who read it. New writer Quincy Carroll has released his debut through the online publisher, Inkshares, and has most certainly made an impression with his Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside. Focusing on following ones dreams as well as the struggles in pursuing said dreams, Carroll’s short novel will speak to and reach out to a larger audience than most other debuts have.
Thomas Guillard, a lazy teacher from Minnesota, has moved to the impoverished China town of Ningyuan to teach. At the school, he meets Daniel: a young and popular teacher from America who escaped from the mundane his life in the States had to offer. Guillard is old school and believes the students need to learn everything from him while Daniel is more modern society and wants students to reach out and learn from the world. Due to these differing viewpoints, both Guillard and Danile butt heads as they teach their students English. However, after clashing with one another, they soon come to realize that they may learn more from one another than they realize.
Carroll is a very talented writer due to the fact that he makes people really think about what they want, what their hearts truly desire. Having two characters from two different generations makes for an intriguing and fascinating clash of viewpoints. Guillard is a man in his sixties who is more than aware of where he is in his life and is knowledgeable of mainly the bad, but also the good in the world while Daniel is in his mid-twenties and is happy where he is at the present time, but is unsure of what he wishes to do with the rest of his life. This portrayal is incredibly accurate, expressing both knowledge and naivety between the age gaps while also expressing the uncertainty every person experiences in his or her life about where they ultimately want to end up.
For such a short novel, Carroll includes a lot of information in his story. Even though it will be an introduction to a new culture for most readers in the States, it still shows that, no matter where one is in life or what country one is in, uncertainty and struggles still follow. Uncertainty does, however, make people question where they ultimately want to end up and, through his characters, Carroll encourages his readers to follow their hearts and their dreams to accomplish whatever makes them happy. Along with encouraging readers, Carroll introduces them to Chinese culture and does an excellent job of portraying a culture readers may or may not be familiar with.
Along with his talent of telling a good story, Carroll’s style of writing is unique and one many may not have come across before. He uses many short sentences, but those short sentences contain a healthy amount of detail that paint a beautiful picture within the reader’s mind. What is different about Carroll’s style is the fact that his characters speak in dialog without quotation marks. This is an element that is not really found in any book and can be difficult for readers to identify when a character is speaking, but it is easy enough to follow along with after a couple of chapters.
Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside is an eye-opening debut that reveals the uncertainty every person experiences at some point in his or her life and the struggle everyone faces when choosing to follow the desires of his or her heart. Even though Carroll’s story has a rather unfulfilling ending, the story as a whole is a memorable debut that many readers, both young and old, will be able to relate to. It poses excellent hypothetical questions, one such question being, “What would you say if you had ten seconds and the entire world was listening?” (Carroll 55). With many points that make readers question and think about their lives and life in general, Carroll has released a successful debut that will capture and captivate the attention of a large reading audience.