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All That You Leave Behind by Erin Lee Carr

All That You Leave Behind

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Erin Lee Carr, on your first book!

by Erin Lee Carr

Quick take

A young filmmaker learns to make sense of the world, and her place in it, through her correspondence with her father.

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    Family drama

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Why I love it

Lena Dunham
Creator, Girls

I met David Carr when I was 23 years old. I still lived with my parents, and they were the only adults who had ever really expressed faith in me (just enough that I had made a low-budget film that was then premiering at a film festival). David was slipped the DVD, watched in his hotel room, and then texted to ask if I could meet in 20 minutes. Soon I was sitting across from a loud, physically imposing and highly specific man as he ate nachos and orated about the film business. I felt like I was being shown a secret doorway. He later revealed he’d only gotten through half of the film before he demanded my company.

When David died I was in my trailer on the set of a TV show I was guest acting in. It was network. It was drama. I was nervous and didn’t know anybody. I got a text—a tweet forwarded from a semi-friend. A frowny face to tell me that my beloved friend and champion of exactly five years was dead. I moved like a zombie, the pain radiating out and touching anyone who knew him, which was everyone.

I could tell you about the well-attended memorial. I could tell you about learning more about someone you love in their death, and seeking the advice they left behind in your life. But my friend Erin Lee Carr has already done that, and she’s better qualified: She’s his daughter.

If I thought David was unique, then I had another thing coming. Erin is highly unusual. She’s precise yet messy, funny yet heavy, sober yet punk. She’s the least afraid person I’ve ever known. She’s exactly the child her father made, and in this book, All That You Leave Behind, we experience the terror and beauty of that. Wild fathers make powerful daughters. Erin’s story is about love. It’s about grief. It’s about addiction and anger and betrayal and pain and loss. It’s the only spiritual use of email excerpts I’ve found (oh, those emails). It will force you to question your own history, goals, dreams, and beliefs, but you will also be freed to experience the love in your life while it’s happening, however complex. What a gift of a book. What a gift of a girl. What a special way to honor a man who loved women in the ways that count, demanded more from art and commerce, and never ever left well enough alone. I miss you, D.

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A celebrated journalist, best-selling author, and recovering addict, David Carr was in the prime of his career when he collapsed in the newsroom of The New York Times in 2015. Shattered by his death, his daughter Erin Lee Carr, an up-and-coming documentary filmmaker at age twenty-seven, began combing through the entirety of their shared correspondence—1,936 items in total.

What started as an exercise in grief quickly grew into an active investigation: Did her father's writings contain the answers to the questions of how to move forward in life and work without your biggest champion by your side? How could she fill the space left behind by a man who had come to embody journalistic integrity, rigor, and hard reporting, whose mentorship meant everything not just to her, but to the many who served alongside him?

In All That You Leave Behind, David Carr's legacy is a lens through which Erin comes to understand her own workplace missteps, existential crises, relationship fails, and toxic relationship with alcohol. Featuring photographs and emails from the author's personal collection, this coming-of-age memoir unpacks the complex relationship between a daughter and her father, their mutual addictions and challenges with sobriety, and the powerful sense of work and family that comes to define them.

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Get an early look from the first pages of All That You Leave Behind.

Member thoughts

All (1540)
All (1540)
Love (592)
Like (749)
Dislike (199)
1604 ratings
  • 37% Love
  • 47% Like
  • 12% Dislike
  • Springfield, MO

    Erin Carr makes self-pity, personal struggles, and grief relatable in a way that I didn’t think possible! This is the first memoir I’ve ever read and it’s safe to say it will remain one of the best.

  • Oak Grove , MN

    This was my first memoir I’ve read, but it won’t be my last! I loved how open and vulnerable Erin was telling her story and honoring her dad. Dad daughter relationships are the best. So relatable!

  • Tempe, AZ

    The story of Erin's struggles as an adult as well as her struggle with alcoholism, grief following her father's death really hit home. I enjoyed this book. Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down!

  • Greensboro, NC

    I like memoirs, but don’t normally find myself engrossed in one. This one had me hooked from chapter one. Carr’s father would be so proud of this work! It was raw, relatable, brave, and powerful.

  • Whitefish Bay, WI

    I love the connection Erin had with her father. After losing my own father recently it touched me although our relationships were very different. Erin is very lucky to have her emails to look back on.

  • New Carlisle, IN

    I love memoirs and this one struck so hard to my feels. The different emotions and connections I felt for different reasons throughout this piece was incredible. A job well done and all my love to dad

  • Boone, NC

    Memoirs being my favorite genre, I knew I would have to choose this book when it was listed.Erin's writing is so open, relevant, and heart-wrenching.From alcoholism to the death of her father, it wows

  • Radnor, OH

    I don’t know if I’ve ever had an emotional moment reading a book. Until I finished this one. The author is strong, honest, and puts passion into all that she does. Read it. You’ll feel it, too.

  • Anchorage, AK

    This was a good read but hard because it reminded me so much of my own father, who I lost in 2008. I liked how honest she was, even when it painted her in an unflattering light. Raw, real, beautiful.

  • Sedona, AZ

    A young woman's struggles to overcome addiction she believes is "in her genes", both of her parents having used illegal drugs and alcohol long before she was born. This true story reads like fiction!

  • Los Angeles, CA

    Found myself so invested in Erin’s relationship with her dad. Moved by their intense relationship and love for one another. Finished this book inspired to call and write more often to those I love!

  • omaha, NE

    Erin Lee Carter's "All That You Leave Behind" is a raw and loving tribute to her father and the story of her life. It's filled with tales of triumph, joy, addiction, disappointment, and struggle.

  • Farmingville, NY

    Thought provoking, raw and sentimental. The story is many things- a father-daughter relationship, a story on the struggles of addiction, bereavement and grief... inspo to consider those in own life.

  • Austin, TX

    This book really tapped into my feels. Amazing, genuinely written account of a beautiful relationship between a father and daughter. I was sobbing after the first 10 pages or so. Vulnerable, strong.

  • North Mankato, MN

    The book sparked so many emotions in me. I am 24 and have had my struggles with alcohol. Erin hits the topic of being too young to be an alcoholic and I related so much to this. I love the lessons.

  • Honolulu, HI

    This novel is an emotional minefield as you hear the wisdom of a father who loves his daughter and the lessons she hung onto after losing him. Heartwrenching but with quotes that I will hold on to.

  • Elkins Park, PA

    I feel like the universe put this book in my life. I relate with Erin. This memoir is a compelling beautiful novel that reminded me of the beauty life offers throughout the pain. Well done Erin!

  • Brighton, MA

    A beautiful story of a father and daughter. I have been telling everyone to read it! This book made me reflect on my own relationship worth my father and how his substance abuse has affected it.

  • Leslie, MI

    I love memoirs! I enjoy seeing how other peoole think. It helps me grow as a person because i see how they handle things and then I see another way to do things. Very wonderful read! Lovef it.

  • Potomac, MD

    I couldn't put this book down. I'm interested in writing a book/story about my Mother and found this very interesting. The author is honest, loving and sensitive. Thank you. Great job Ms. Carr.

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