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The Next Chapter: Interview with Charlene Carr, Author of “We Rip the World Apart”

Charlene Carr’s latest novel, “We Rip the World Apart,” delves into the intricate experiences of an interracial family residing in rural Nova Scotia. In this captivating interview, Carr unveils the novel’s profound themes of race, politics, and grief, while reflecting upon her own journey as a biracial woman raised in Canada. Embark on a literary exploration that challenges societal norms and ignites introspection.

The Title’s Significance: “We Rip the World Apart”

Ryan B. Patrick (RBP): Your novel’s title, “We Rip the World Apart,” is both striking and evocative. Can you elaborate on its significance and how it encapsulates the story’s essence?

Charlene Carr (CC): The title underwent numerous iterations before we settled on “We Rip the World Apart.” Initially, I considered “I’d Rip the World Apart,” a line extracted from the narrative. However, altering it to “We” transformed its meaning. The novel delves into the concept of biracial identity, and for me, it signifies how biracial individuals challenge the very notion of race and racism. We’re not separate species, as the idea of race suggests, and when you encounter a person of mixed races, it disrupts those ingrained beliefs.

Unraveling the Story’s Characters and Their Struggles

RBP: “We Rip the World Apart” introduces three women whose lives are intertwined through love, blood, and secrets: Kareela, Evelyn, and Violet. Can you introduce these characters and offer insights into their poignant struggles?


  • Kareela: A 24-year-old biracial woman grappling with her identity and place in the world. Raised in multicultural Toronto, she relocates to rural Nova Scotia, becoming the sole Black student in her school. Kareela’s journey revolves around self-discovery, seeking her true path and belonging.
  • Evelyn: Kareela’s mother, Evelyn, is deeply wounded by the tragic loss of her son, a victim of police brutality. Struggling to cope with her grief and make sense of the world, she finds solace in her husband, Kingsley, who is also grieving. Together, they navigate the complexities of their shared sorrow.
  • Violet: Kareela’s paternal grandmother, Violet, moves into their home following the devastating loss of Kareela’s brother. A resilient and steadfast woman, Violet strives to hold the family together. However, she carries her own burdens of grief and undisclosed secrets.

Exploring Parallels Between Author and Story

RBP: There appear to be intriguing parallels between your own experiences and the narrative of “We Rip the World Apart.” Can you share a glimpse into your upbringing and how it relates to the novel’s themes?

CC: My family relocated from Toronto to rural New Brunswick when I was young. It was a challenging transition, moving from a diverse urban environment to a place where I was one of the few students of color in my school. These experiences growing up in a biracial family and adjusting to a predominantly white area undoubtedly influenced the story and characters in “We Rip the World Apart.”

Confronting Race and Racism with Nuance

RBP: Race and racism are central themes in your novel. How do you approach these sensitive topics with nuance and authenticity in your writing?

CC: I believe it’s imperative to tell stories that confront race and racism, particularly in light of recent events like the Black Lives Matter movement and the tragic murder of George Floyd. I aimed to craft a narrative that delved into the experiences of a Black family in Canada, highlighting the challenges they face and the complexities of their lives. It’s a story that sheds light on the realities of racism and its impact on individuals and families.

Finding Healing and Forgiveness Amidst Adversity

RBP: Despite the trauma and heartache that permeate the novel, there’s also a sense of hope and the possibility of healing. How do the characters find solace, healing, and forgiveness within the story?

CC: Healing and forgiveness emerge from the characters’ willingness to be vulnerable, to acknowledge their mistakes, and to confront the misconceptions they held about one another. They must find the strength to forgive and recognize that the secrets they’ve harbored haven’t defined their relationships. It’s in this process of vulnerability and forgiveness that the potential for healing and rebuilding their family truly lies.

A Call to Action: Embracing Empathy and Understanding

Charlene Carr’s “We Rip the World Apart” is a poignant and thought-provoking novel that explores the complexities of race, grief, and family. Carr’s skillful storytelling delves into the lives of her characters, creating a narrative that is both heartbreaking and hopeful. As readers, we’re invited to reflect on our own biases, to cultivate empathy, and to work towards a more inclusive and just society. Join us in this literary journey and let Carr’s words inspire us to confront the challenges of our world with compassion and understanding.