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Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir

3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  849 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
In this powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile her present life—in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison.

As a child, Kambri Crews wished that she’d been born deaf so she, too, could fully belong to the tight-knit D
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by Random House
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(showing 1-30 of 2,675)
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Christian Finnegan
Dec 11, 2011 Christian Finnegan rated it it was amazing
“Burn Down the Ground” is more than readable. It’s put-your-phone-on-airplane-mode, call-in-sick-for-work, ignore-your-spouse-and-family readable.

No, you may not have grown up isolated in the woods. No, you may not have been immersed in the Deaf community. And no, your formative years may not have been marked by intense and random bursts of violence. But in these pages, you will recognize yourself—the tragic comedy of youth, and the terrifying realization that maybe your heroes aren’t so heroic
Timothy Bazzett
Feb 24, 2012 Timothy Bazzett rated it it was amazing
I love memoirs, and Kambri Crews' BURN DOWN THE GROUND could very well turn out to be one of the best of 2012 - and it's her first book too. If Crews is like many women, she probably doesn't particularly like being reminded of her age, but I'm gonna say it anyway, because she's only forty, which seems kinda young to be writing your memoirs. But the fact is she had a story worth telling - that she NEEDED to tell - and she does a fine job of it.

BURN DOWN THE GROUND is a magical mix of the ordinary
Melissa (ladybug)
Mar 20, 2012 Melissa (ladybug) rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: "Adults" who are CODA, Deaf, Hearing that want to know what it is like.
I won this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. I received an ARC book and I am not required to give a good review.

Warning: This book contains abuse of all kinds. Drug abuse, Domestic abuse, Emotional abuse, Alcohol abuse and language are all contained in this book.

Goodreads tells us that "In this powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile her present life—in which her fathe
Stephanie Ziegler
Feb 16, 2013 Stephanie Ziegler rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Randomly Sent to Me
The only thing I hated about this book was having to put it down and go to sleep! When the author told stories about her Dad when she was young, my eyes got misty remembering doing the same things with my Dad when I was young. Back in the day when you could ride in the bed of a pickup truck and Dad would let me drive the straight back road home. Trying to please him by wanting to help him do things, only to be disappointed that the position was taken by my older brother. Wheelbarrow rides around ...more
Jessica Bang
Jan 23, 2012 Jessica Bang rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book as a "First Reads" and as soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. Crews's narrative is straightforward, honest, and familiar. And familiar in a good sense; sort of like a new friend or neighbor you make and have the opportunity to get to know really well. The book as a whole was fascinating and inspirational to me because I am not educated enough about the Deaf community. Crews's experiences, especially as a daughter and sister to her parents and brother, are sometimes t ...more
Tamara McFarland
Mar 11, 2012 Tamara McFarland rated it liked it
I remember Kambri as a feisty elementary school kid-- so skinny you could blow her away with a soft wind-- I had no idea what her homelife was like except that her parents were deaf. My son remembers watching her and her brother communicating from across the lunch room in high school-- and knowing when they were arguing because of the increased frenetic movements.

It looks like Kambri came out better than anyone could have hoped-- but like her mom's t-shirt said, "deaf & smart!"

Montgomery wa
Stacey Glaesmann
Apr 09, 2012 Stacey Glaesmann rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed Kambri Crews's freshman book. One of the reasons I like memoirs and biographies so much is learning about situations and thought processes unlike my own. Neither being a Deaf person nor someone prone to violence, I found Crews's explanations and internal voice regarding these subjects of particular interest. It was also refreshing to read about someone who has made good choices in her life, despite not having a good start. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys non-fic ...more
Feb 28, 2012 J. rated it it was amazing
This author has risen above tough circumstances to make her way in the world. This is a classic example of triumphing over seemingly insurmountable challenges to become something extraordinary. Read this book to remind yourself that if you put your mind to something, it can be done. Read it to remind yourself we are all human. Read it to remind yourself that forgiveness is crucial to love. Highly recommend.
Sep 23, 2012 Meghan rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, ebook
If you enjoyed The Glass Castle, try this memoir about a girl growing up in rural Texas with Deaf parents. It's a compelling story and the writing is adequate.
Cindy Bradshaw
Nov 15, 2012 Cindy Bradshaw rated it it was amazing
This book opened my eyes in many ways. I was given insight into the deaf community, which is something I previously knew nothing about...nor thought much about. I was shown how others survive without the comforts I (and most of the people I know) find minimal. I was shown the heart and soul of a little girl who was smart, funny, talented, loving, and genuine. She was forced to behave as an adult from a very young age by having to be her parents' voice, by being exposed to inappropriate adult-the ...more
May 23, 2012 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
This memoir is absolutely riveting. Raw, emotional and perfectly paced - I didn't want this book to end. Kambri Crews's memoir traces her childhood as the hearing child of two deaf parents, focusing on her father's conviction of attempted murder and 20-year jail term. Crews has to come to terms with who her father his as a person and reconcile the man she knew as a murderer.

Crews succeeds. She talks about the man she saw as "Daniel Boone, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, and Elvis Presley all
Mar 28, 2012 Stephanie rated it it was ok
I think the author was too close to her material. This autobiography of an abusive and difficult childhood might have much to recommend it, if the author's writing didn't come across as more purging than literary.

I may be stumbling up against the inadequacy of words myself here, in that there are many fine books which were writing as therapy, or a way to confront and make sense of the demons of one's childhood.

But there is a lack of maturity here, the book reads more like a simple recitation o
Apr 26, 2012 Claire rated it it was amazing
I learned about this book from Julie Klausner's How Was Your Week? podcast and immediately loved the author's sense of humor, her compassionate outlook and sense of perspective.

This is a survivor's memoir, and if you're looking for a role model, a vision of how a person can move through a traumatic childhood and come out funny and happy, this is your book.

Crews straddles contradictions, she defies black-and-white encapsulations of people. She's comfortable with unreconciled ambiguities, and I lo
Kate Rice
Jul 20, 2013 Kate Rice rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-list-2013
I've known the basics of this story as long as I've known Kambri Crews: She grew up CODA in a rural Texas town, her Dad (an odd mix between an antagonist and a hero) has anger issues and beat her Mom, her Mom divorced her Dad while she was in High School, Kambri married young and moved to Ohio to escape the situation, her Dad is now serving 20 years for the attempted murder of his girlfriend at a Texas penitentiary.

Knowing just the basics of the story, I've always been impressed with how generou
Deborah Finnegan
Mar 29, 2012 Deborah Finnegan rated it it was amazing
I loved this book for so many reasons! The characters were portrayed consistently as incidents were inserted from earlier or later times and it was very clear what was happening. Even through the sadness of this family came some funny lines and situations which helped to show how resourceful these 2 kids and their Mom were. An especially poignant part of the story that stays in my mind was the way Kambri tried to keep her things organized, and to have something to do which pleased her - and so s ...more
Dysmonia Kuiper
Apr 11, 2013 Dysmonia Kuiper rated it liked it
Recommended to Dysmonia by: Gina Fabiano
Shelves: the-352
Well-written and poignant, this memoir was a nice change from my usual biographical fare, which is mostly comprised of mental illness treatises and rape survivor stories.

Kambri Crews grew up a hearing child with deaf parents, so the reader is treated to an interesting and valuable education about the Deaf community. Ostensibly, though, that's not what the book is about. Kambri is not deaf, and although being Deaf is a large part of her parents' identity, this is her memoir, not theirs. In the e
Dec 31, 2013 Renee rated it really liked it
Burning down the Ground is an unflinching memoir, where a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile it to her present life—one in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison.

There is an interesting line in the book where Kambri says “if my dad was Superman, then the hearing world was his kryptonite”. I learned a lot about the deafness and the Deaf community in general. At one point Kambri ask
Jun 22, 2012 Sansanee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 23, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
Kambri Crews grew up wishing that she were deaf so she could fit into the tight-knit Deaf community that both her parents enjoyed. Kambri and her brother David were born hearing, but both their parents and many family members were deaf. Kambri had to be an intermediary from a young age for her parents. While Kambri's mother could hear a little when she wore her hearing aids, Kambri's father could not hear at all and his deafness made him constantly paranoid that people were making fun or him or ...more
Feb 28, 2012 Lana rated it really liked it
My friend lent this book to me, she won it on goodreads. I liked alot about this book. I loved the fact that this girl was growing up in the same time frame that I did. It was fun reading about the cloths hair and music of the 70 and 80s.
It is a interesting book, there is so much that I did not know about living with deaf parents and family. The abuse/neglect is hard to read about but she did well despite of the hard life she was given. I liked reading about how hard she worked both as a child a
Apr 27, 2012 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are a plethora of memoirs out there about unhappy, dysfunctional childhoods, so many that they’ve become pretty prosaic. Crews’ story, however, is unique and a testament to resilience and overcoming numerous obstacles.

Crews and her brother are not hearing impaired, but grew up signing with their parents--and their parents’ friends in their tight-knit deaf community--and interpreting for them in the hearing world. She honestly portrayed what it was like growing up in a hearing impaired hous
Feb 01, 2016 Sarah rated it it was ok
I kept trying to get into this but it was boring to me, despite the information on deafness, that was interesting but over all i felt like i didn't want to know what happened next. The first chapter was good, the letter from her dad from prison got my attention but it seemed like it was anticlimactic. which says a lot about me since I was just looking for some drama to unfold.
Laura McWilliams
Nov 10, 2013 Laura McWilliams rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
I've always believed that just about every life can be the basis for an interesting memoir. Burn Down the Ground is written by a hearing woman who grew up with deaf parents and inside the Deaf community. It's a really interesting premise that is not executed as well as I would have liked. Author Kambi Crews does not pause on any particular part of her life but tells the story in the format of "this happened. Then this happened. Then this happened." It leaves for a less-than-satisfactory explorat ...more
Aug 31, 2015 Lee rated it it was ok
This is a weird one. On the one hand she gives the reader invaluable information about deaf people, and on the other she tells all about her family. And I mean All! Some of it a little hard to believe, but it's her life and her book so who am I to question her. Some I really enjoyed reading and some not so much. Hard to grade this one, 4 for the information, less 1 for the writing and another minus 1 for repeating herself and including some information better left unsaid.
Jun 16, 2012 Alicia rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I am so pleased that I won a copy of this book through Goodreads! I was impressed by Kambri's candor and willingness to poke all the places that hurt through her memoir. I also appreciated the added details about the Deaf community and ASL because most of us probably have not encountered it before; however, it seemed a little superfluous at times. I found myself wishing she would talk more about her dad as he is now, but maybe that is all the recent experience she's had (or is willing to share). ...more
Feb 19, 2012 Eva rated it really liked it
This was a first read giveway when I signed up for it I was not sure it was my type of book but I went it to it with and open mind. So glad I did it turned out to be one of the best books I have read. Kambri Crews showed her strength and courage in telling her story of growing up with not only deaf parents, but also a abusive alcoholic father and having been striped of everything and living with nothing. It is a book that shows that no matter how bad things are or how bad you thing your childhoo ...more
Susan Horan
Apr 30, 2012 Susan Horan rated it liked it
Kambri Crews' memoir of growing up with deaf parents in rural Texas kept me riveted. Although the second half loses steam, it was fascinating to read about her experiences as a hearing child within the deaf community. It's also a wonder she turned out as normal as she did - her father was an alcoholic and serial domestic abuser who violently attacked her mother and eventually went to prison. Writing this memoir must have been a great catharsis for Crews. She doesn't attempt to justify her father ...more
David Stewart
Jun 22, 2012 David Stewart rated it it was amazing
Kambri Crews has mastered the art of storytelling. BURN DOWN THE GROUND: A MEMOIR is a compelling read and a literary roller coaster ride. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more, I got angry, and I felt intense sorrow while reading this book. Through her brilliant use of descriptions and character development, I felt as though I was actually part of this story and not merely a bystander just peeking in. Good writers are a dime a dozen. Great writers - those who cut to the very soul - are quite ...more
Jun 18, 2012 Sherman rated it it was ok
I know most of the people who read this book liked it but for me it was a little slow and boring. Reminded me of "The Glass Castle", which I did like and thought it was a very good book but this one just didn't cut it. If you had two parents, one a construction worker and the other in assembly line work with electronics both making good money back then and they lived in a tin shed? Some of it just didn't add up. It's good that everything turned out alright in the least for everyone exc ...more
Paul V.
Aug 09, 2015 Paul V. rated it really liked it
Tolstoy said that happy families are the same, but unhappy families are each unhappy in their own way (or something like that; he wouldn't return my calls when I asked him the exact quote). This book is about one of the most dysfunctional families you can imagine, and it's amazing that the author survived to an adulthood in which she can be successful and own her own company. Her parents were deaf. Her father was a felon, possibly a murderer, and a wife beater nearly to the death. Her mother was ...more
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Book Haven: My Memoir Giveaway via Random House 4 78 Jan 08, 2012 09:35PM  
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Kambri Crews owns her own PR and production company specializing in comedy. A renowned storyteller, she has appeared on many shows like The Moth, Risk!, and Mortified. She has given speeches at many deaf and women's groups and schools such as DeafHope, The University of Oregon, Rutgers, and The University of Texas.

She splits her time between New York City and the Catskills, with her husband, comed
More about Kambri Crews...

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“It can't be pretty without being ugly first.” 6 likes
“His inability to like or appreciate me for who I was and his willingness to judge me based on my social standing made him wholly unattractive to me.” 0 likes
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