In The Vow: The True Events that Inspired the Movie, Kim and Krickitt Carpenter’s true story of memory lost and love found… again — has released in an updated and expanded version from B&H Publishing Group. This reissued book inspired the major motion picture starring Rachel McAdams (The Notebook) and Channing Tatum (Dear John).
The Carpenters recently agreed to answer my questions about the various experiences surrounding the upcoming film and their reissued book, which includes an additional chapter and new 16-page photo insert expanding their original 1996 book The Vow.
The Vow traces actual events from the 1990s, when Kim and Krickitt met, fell in love and married. Just 10 weeks later, the couple survived a terrible car wreck with Krickitt awakening in the hospital married to a stranger. The accident had claimed 18 months of Krickitt’s memories, including all recollection of Kim.
With Kim committed to his marriage vows and Krickitt maintaining her strong Christian faith — even if recent memories were gone — the couple began the long road to a rebuilt relationship, with a second wedding ceremony and renewal of their vows. Krickett answered in part one of the interview, so now here are Kim’s answers.
Please describe the devotion and sacrifice you both experienced after the accident, including the subsequent writing of the book about these experiences.
To be tested at such an early stage of marriage in a situation like this was miserable. Only after gaining an awareness of understanding the task at hand, was I able to realize what it was I had to do. I divulged myself on us, and life as it seemed stopped for everything else. There were constant challenges, and yes at times I was ready to give up but the support system around us, accompanied with the faith I had in God, enabled me to continue on. It was not an easy task but the sacrifice and devotion created a far better reward than quitting.
Writing the book was another way to share that life not only gets tough, but one can persevere and surpass any and all odds of losing a marriage and surviving the storm. A marriage does not just have to be a relationship with another. It is a commitment to anything you pursue. A Japanese producer once said “Mr. Carpenter, The World Needs This Story,” so we delivered it.
Please describe the initial reaction then following thoughts and feelings regarding the announcement that the movie would be filmed in Canada and Chicago instead of New Mexico and how this change might have affected overall expectations of the movie adaptation.
We would have enjoyed the shooting of the movie to be in our home state, but it also enabled us travel to Canada and a place we had never been. Having worked through the script time and time again and knowing the setting and the final place of shooting the movie, this really did not affect the overall expectation of the film. We really had the desire for it to be more similar in nature with me being a baseball coach and her being a sports apparel salesperson but the affect was minimal.
Your story has grown into an experience that so many people want to tell. Please describe what challenges you both experienced when other people communicated your story to others. Did they try to understand you both as people or just try to sensationalize the story and put their own “spin” on it.
The most frustrating aspect was hearing about the wrong facts and misleading statements. Our faith has kept us so grounded, that most of it did not have any effect on us. Sensationalizing this story to me has been the most offensive. Since this story was discovered it has created an appearance as a result of the media that I am some sort of super hero for staying. As one interviewer stated “you’re a man like no other, with a story like no other.” It is really sad that society has accepted this sensational story for simply doing what I said I would do. So why bother to repeat your vow during your wedding ceremony that states “until death do us part so help you God”? Which is exactly who helped us through the whole ordeal. If people want to put their own spin on this story to inspire others then I guess that is their way of living.
For us, we are as normal as an everyday couple with a humble abode that has kept us grounded, that will continue to keep us grounded. I am a “tell it like it is” kind of guy and because of it sometimes am misunderstood. The bottom line is that I look at life as being a circle. Came into this world being helped, lived your life helping others in preparation for those to return the favor. To me that is the epitome of life and the circle of it as well; however the challenges we face today are getting those who have broken out of the circle to get them back in. Only the ones in it now are the ones committed.
Please describe why you both decided to add more information about the events that occurred after the initial book release within the new re-release of the book.
As time has progressed it is important to let those who once you encountered be reminded that life has gone on. For us it is with our children, also that fact that we are able to show that we are not some sort of extra-ordinary people that we are as normal as a sincere next door neighbor. For me our children needed to see how the world was enamored by this story the first time around and that just by the decision to stay together how it is capturing that hearts of many across the globe. It is a simple re-enforcement to our children that doing the right thing brings far more gain than giving up.
In my family I tell my children as they go to the bus stop one word and that is “remember” — my children know what that means and their response is “I know dad, do the right thing.” I also at times tell them that “it is important to do what” and their response is “give it all you got” The Star magazine once called someone very close to us to see if we were still together. Let it be known that we are not perfect and we can argue just like any other married couple. But the D-word is never used in this family and choice is used as to what you want to wear each day or what you want to eat. Bottom line is you learn to find things you love about one another. It may not be the same all the time but just as people change you adapt. With that adaptation you find something new to love about your spouse always keeping in the back of your mind what brought you together to begin with and the traits that you fell in love with.
Please describe both of your feelings before the upcoming Hollywood premiere and international premiere in London relating to how many more people will see your story after a development process that lasted 17 years.
Over these past years throughout the project we have not lived our life with the daily hope that the movie would be made. We were confident it would be but just did not know when. Having been through the big push with the hundreds of interviews with the likes of Oprah, Dateline, The Today Show, Japanese, German, UK and other organizations, we are not nervous. We have met a lot of great people along the way and have been burned by others. It’s all good, as I feel that experience is what you gain from the frustrating encounters one has in life. The premiere will be exciting and I am more so excited about it for my children.
Pretty cool my daughter LeeAnn, who is named after two famous women who in their own way have inspired us (Ann Curry and Leeza Gibbons) will meet them soon and have become not acquaintances, but friends. To experience walking the red carpet, great, for doing something extra-ordinary in their eyes pretty cool. But letting my kids take it all in knowing that their parents are famous for doing what they said they were going to do is to me priceless. Finally, we know millions will see, hear, or read the story. Some people think we will get rich monetarily which I doubt will happen. The richness I want to gain is knowing that this story saves even just one relationship. Let it be a tool that God is using for his benefit to inspire a family to work it out, never quitting and letting their siblings experience that the greatest rewards come from never giving up and keeping your commitment where they see the impact it has on others around you.