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Driving with Dead People

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  3,746 ratings  ·  411 reviews
Small wonder that, at nine years old, Monica Holloway develops a fascination with the local funeral home. With a father who drives his Ford pickup with a Kodak movie camera sitting shotgun just in case he sees an accident, and whose home movies feature more footage of disasters than of his children, Monica is primed to become a morbid child.Yet in spite of her father's bou ...more
Hardcover, 327 pages
Published March 6th 2007 by Simon Spotlight Entertainment (first published March 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Ruth
This book was written by a woman from my hometown. She was a year behind me in high school. She has changed all the names of people and places in this memoir but I recognized them all.
Her story proves you never know what is really going on in someone else's life.
Tania
I wished there had been obvious signs of destruction on all of us kids: bruises or burn marks, something that indicated how violent our house was, but words and neglect don't leave visible marks.


3.5 stars. I read this book in two sittings, even though I thought it was off to a slow start. I loved that the author's perspective changed as she grew up. When she described things that happened to her at the start of the book, from a child's point of view, everything was almost fine with her. Describi
...more
Melissa
I read Glass Castle over a month before this book and I've come to a profound conclusion. I may not have had my parents as long as I'd wanted, but they were great parents. The girl in Glass Castle and now Monica Halloway, both endured child abuse most of their lives and their parents were around a LONG time. My mom died when I as 24 and my dad when I was 17; I may have been a little sheltered, but they brought me up VERY well. I always felt loved, that they were proud of me, and if they were dis ...more
Shelley
This book was a surprise. You think that it's going to be about this little girl who ends up having an obsession with death and the mortuary and the story ends up being about something totally different. Great story but it's not a "good feeling" book, if that is what you are looking for.
Alice
Not for the faint of heart. So sad and disturbing. The abuse the father inflicts on this family and the blind eye the mother turns to her children made me feel ill.
Elizabeth
I don't know why I didn't review this book when I read it. It was fabulous! What a ride! Funny. Sad. Uncomfortable. Heart stirring. Get ready to go green light brain food. Insanely creative, beautiful, at times razor sharp, and magnificent prose. Emotionally compelling. Achingly searching. Gut and soul honest. Utterly unique and one of a kind.
I can't describe the characters without creating spoilers. You will love one and some, and loathe others.
One of my top reads for 2013 and likely for many
...more
Kendra
I didn't like this book as much as I thought I would. It wasn't that it was a bad story per se, it was just that to me what makes memoirs good is that either #1 People can look back and laugh at their dysfunction (because we are all a little dysfunctional) or #2 That they can look back and say they have learned from their experience and that they have overcome what may have been a bad childhood or whatever. This book does not do that. Throughout the whole book, the author still seems bitter and ...more
Amanda
An intriuging true story of a girl who has a horrific childhood addled with both abuse and sheer indifference at the hands of her parents. Holloway becomes obsessed with death, as she sees this as the only viable option in her dark life, and ends up befriending the daughter of the town's funeral home owner. Most kids have a summer job flipping burgers or scooping ice cream, Holloway spent summers in her teenage years driving with dead people, literally picking up dead bodies at the local airport ...more
Alexandra
Oct 27, 2007 Alexandra rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who has had to confront the monsters in the closet or is looking for the courage to do so.
Books enter our lives through mysterious paths sometimes. I'd put this on my amazon wish list and seen it noted in the New Yorker. Then, for my final shoot for a magazine I was parting ways with, I was asked to photograph the author. Not only is Monica's story told with tremendous candor and wit, after becoming friends I learned first hand how authentically voice comes through in the narrative. As a big fan of the genre, too many memoirs are over written and lack the real voice behind the tale. ...more
Chelsey
Mar 12, 2009 Chelsey is currently reading it
This book is a page turner. Everytime I open it, the time flys by and before I know it I have been reading for a few hours. Monica Holloway is a wonderful author. Im looking forward to reading other by her.
Sonja Arlow
3 ½ stars

This is an honest and painful memoir that’s not for the faint hearted.

The first 1/3 of the book is very reminiscent of Glass Castle, with the same humor and almost lightly detached recollection of really very painful childhood memories. However the main difference between these books were that the parents in Glass Castle who, although inadequate, actually loved their kids in some twisted way.

What a piece of shit Monica’s dad was – constantly out to humiliate or physically hurt his kids
...more
Samantha
Feb 02, 2009 Samantha rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
I have to sit back and ask myself, how is it this person is still alive and, according to the epilogue (and book deal) thriving? For someone as obsessed with death, dying and suicide as Holloway is after surviving an abusive, indifferent upbringing and one mentally destructive relationship after another, I am amazed she didn't step in front of the subway car the many, many times she mentions she was going to. My continued reading of this book was less interest and more like seeing an accident (a ...more
Deborah
I found this memoir to be very "novelish" in the writing style. Kept having to remind myself it was actually the telling of the family life of the author. Somehow it made the book slightly unbelievable to me. I had a difficult time reaching down inside to capture my feelings for this child/young woman and her poor family...and I'm not quite sure why. Possibly because it isn't until the end of the memoir that we get a sense of her true feelings and the pain she actually felt. I know that in many ...more
Pamela
I would give this memoir 2.5 stars if I could. But with the plethora of good, thoughtful, emotive and cathartic memoirs out there (Liar's Club, The Glass Castle), I can't say I gained much from this book aside from an interesting story. The writing missed an ingredient that indicates introspection, compassion, even rage. For all the dysfunction (and I come from a highly dysfunctional background that might even eclipse this), I could never get behind this writer. She reported her story to us, rat ...more
Kristie
This memoir brought back many memories for me--the HR Pufinstuf lunchbox (which I never got to have but longed for) and the elephant bells (which I unfortunately owned and wore). The story gets deeper and deeper as the author realizes things about her childhood and her family. It took turns I did not expect but Ms. Holloway wrote about them in an honest, raw way that made for an intriguing story.

I was a little disappointed that after reading the book, I flipped back to the front and read the no
...more
Christy Baugher
This is a really fasinating book. This girl is growing up in a home where the dad is obsesed with death and stops to take pictures of cars accidents, the mother goes back to school and becomes neglectful and not to mention, her best friend's family runs the town's funeral home. As she grows it becomes apparent to her that her life is screwed up and waiting to come is her parents' biggest betrayal yet. It is truely a beautiful memoir of one girl's refusal to be put down despite her family.

This w
...more
Kendra
This memoir spans Monica Holloway's life from age 8 to the present time. I found the parts about her wholly dysfunctional childhood much more interesting than the later sections (especially tale after tale of all of the mistakes she made during her college and post-college years), but the entire book is very readable and compelling, and it's really sad that it took so long for the author to find the kind of settled life that she deserved. (The title, by the way, comes from the section of the boo ...more
Karen Germain
I've managed to read a lot of memoirs about screwed up families, but I think this one takes the cake. I didn't know which parent to be more livid at. I cannot even imagine how Holloway managed a semi normal life after such a messed up childhood. On a side note, I found all of the funeral parlor stuff to be fascinating. Parts of this book are not for the faint of heart.
Stuart
Monica Holloway's funny but dark and disturbing memoir. One of the ten best books I have ever read, a book that is written so well Monica can make you laugh and cry in the same sentence. It was very hard to put down.
Carolyn Wesley
LOVED this book. heartbreaking and humorous. Writing style=perfect
Sandra O'Briant
Dysfunctional isn't a strong enough word to describe the narrator's family. Something is wrong with little Monica, but it doesn't play out until you're two-thirds of the way into the book. The story started slow and stayed slow through half of the book, but picked up speed when Monica reaches high school. Before that her childhood was dominated by a violent father and a passive-aggressive mother. Her family was not poor-there were piano lessons and bikes and participation in extra-curricular act ...more
Kathy Hiester
You don’t have to read for long to see that the Holloways have some severe troubles. Monica might recognize her father's fixation with filming roadside accidents as bizarre but his problematic is the physical and emotional abuse that he heaves upon his family. Monica grows up in a family where everyone walks on eggshells in terror of being screamed at or humiliated in public. When her parents divorce, her father refuses to be involved in anything more than the divorce decree and custody agreemen ...more
Shelah
In Driving with Dead People Monica Holloway recounts her childhood-- her father's scary rages, her mother's detached way of dealing with the situation, her trashy extended family, her siblings' various reactions to growing up in a dysfunctional environment. Her parents divorced when Monica (the youngest) was an early teen, and her dad moved out, her mom moved out, and she and her next older sister raised themselves. Weird, huh? She did gain some stability from her best friend's family, who ran a ...more
Kelly
When I pick up a new book, I am one of the few out there who literally read it cover to cover. When I say that, I truly mean it. I read the inside book jacket and the blurbs from bestselling authors on the back. One sentence that truly sums up this book is by author Barbara Abercrombie. She quotes "In the space of one sentence Monica Holloway can break your heart and make you laugh out loud at the same time." This truly sums up what it is like reading this memoir.

Driving With Dead People is Moni
...more
Tara
I started out strongly disliking this book--Holloway included a number of violent or otherwise disturbing scenes that didn't seem to further the plot at all, and the narrative was very scattered. Yet by the middle of the book, I was hooked by the compelling narrative and Holloway's intent to rise above her circumstances. By the end, I was needlessly disturbed again, and felt like someone had pulled a bait and switch on me. And, as others have pointed out, only about 10 pages of the book are actu ...more
Kimberly
I needed something "fun" to read and chose this. I love this book so far. Monica is an interesting girl with many "exciting" adventures with her fascination on death and the dead and dying. This book is well written from the child's point of view. The phrasing and emotions are true to a 9 year old, especially when she hurts herself and needs crutches - her response "Crutches! All right!!!" - she is a child craving attention. I cant wait to read more!

Well I have finally finished this book (as I h
...more
Mia
I just finished the 2nd lap through almost my whole bookcase, so I was looking for fresh blood and this caught my eye while I was at Target (it's one of their special book club books or something).

It started off as a "Girl Named Zippy" kind of childhood telling of things and then got dark too close to the end, so you close the book kind of... unfulfilled? I suppose that is an occupational hazard of writing a memoir when you're young(ish) or are writing about semi-recent events. There's no resol
...more
Kitty
This book started out as one that was hard not to like, but then turned into one that was hard to like. I don't want to give anything away, but the first part of the book, when Monica was a child growing up in Ohio, reminded me a lot of my own childhood. I would have liked to have been her friend (she was born just a year after me). I find it intriguing that she and her friend Julie used to play in a mortuary and try out the caskets. But as the story goes on it gets more and more messed up, and ...more
Laren
I did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. From the title, you might expect this to be the memoir of the daughter of a mortician or something similar. Instead, she uses a recurring theme of death to recount significant events in her life starting at age 8. The use of death is not morbid, but rather, builds to bring the author through a different kind of death altogether. I think that part is meant to be a surprise to the reader, so I won't elaborate. Suffice it to say this book is ver ...more
Amy
Another memoir of the "boy my childhood was horrible but look I overcame it" variety. I don't mean to demean the author. If everything in the book is true, she really did have a terrible childhood.

But.

There are sure a lot of these kinds of books out there, and there was nothing in particular to differentiate this one. I only read it because the description mentioned that her dad used to keep a video camera on the front seat of the car so he could film various disasters and accidents wherever he
...more
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Monica Holloway is the critically acclaimed author of the memoirs "Cowboy & Wills" and "Driving With Dead People." She contributed to the anthology Mommy Wars, from which her essay Red Boots and Cole Haans was described by Newsday as brilliant, grimly hilarious. Holloway lives with her family in Los Angeles."
More about Monica Holloway...
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“The truth was that in the end, sad felt better than rage - a lot better. But rage came easier. Sad felt like the world was ending. (150)” 11 likes
“I was relieved in some weird way that the accident had actually occurred. It was a physical manifestation of what had already been going on inside the car. The outside now matched the inside - damaged beyond repair. (113) ” 7 likes
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