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Sweeping Up Glass

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  1,383 ratings  ·  357 reviews
A novel about mothers and daughters, racial prejudice and the power of secrets in the 1930s American South. Olivia Harker grew up in brutally-segregated Depression-era Kentucky, but spent her time with her black neighbours. Now a grandmother, Olivia finds that her past threatens her family, her community, and her life.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 25th 2010 by Not Avail (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Annalisa
Apr 04, 2010 Annalisa rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Annalisa by: Leslie
This book had a lot of potential, but it fizzled early on. I found the setting and characters all very vivid and was pulled into Olivia's admiration of her father and hatred of her mother from the get go. But then Wall decided to take a sharp left turn into tragedy for no apparent reason and without any explanation. At that point, she lost me. Everything after that was out of character and out of time. I had hoped that Wall would justify all those unexplained years, but not only did she not answ ...more
Sara
The blurbs used to describe Carolyn Wall’s debut, Sweeping Up Glass, compare Wall to Harper Lee, William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor. I mean WOW, how does a novel live up to those kinds of expectations? And yet, even from the beginning, it just does. The striking similarities to To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the most beloved books ever written, are unavoidable. The innocent narrator, and explored themes particularly evoke Mockingbird, and that is a statement I’d never make light ...more
Billyf27
Wow! This book is filled with characters that I will never forget.
Wendy
I was not in the mood for Sweeping Up Glass when I began reading it. I had made a commitment though to read and review it. I am sure it sounded good to me when I checked the box at the BookBrowse website to be entered for a chance to review it, but once it arrived in the mail, I wondered what in the world I had been thinking. My extra-fabulous reading streak would surely be ruined now. Maybe that would be a good thing though, I told myself. People are beginning to think I not only like, but actu ...more
M
Mar 29, 2009 M rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who liked To Kill a Mockingbird and God of Animals
Recommended to M by: Lisa McCormack and other sales reps
This book came out of nowhere. Previously published by a small press, it has been virtually unknown (though Oprah's O Magazine did bestow its accolades). It is the little book that could; a gem of a novel in the same vein as a favorite of mine, God of Animals by Aryn Kyle and fairly reminiscent of one of the grandmothers of modern Southern fiction whose classic child heroine I compare every child narrator to... Harper Lee's Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Olivia Harker Cross, Wing Harris, Love A
...more
Rhlibrary
Hi. My name is Marie, and I’m a “buzz book” addict.

It started with Cutting for Stone and now I hereby declare my love for Carolyn Wall’s Sweeping Up Glass. If you are at all a To Kill a Mockingbird fan, read this. If you found Fannie Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes charming, read this. If Bastard Out of Carolina is one of your favorites, read this. If you were as enamored as I was with God of Animals by newcomer Aryn Kyle, read this. If you’ve never read any of those books but have a hankering for
...more
Cindy
This novel is probably the best book that i have read this year! I was a little leery about the topic of wolves however even though the wolves were significant they were not THE story but a part of the story. Olivia, the main character and narrator, is a strong and proud woman yet has a past that emotionally wears her down. Bigotry, love, hatred, madness and a mystery that needs to be solved are all included in this novel. All the characters have strong personalities and i became involved in eac ...more
Denise
4.0 out of 5 stars True grit in the cold Kentucky mountains..., July 26, 2009

This review is from: Sweeping Up Glass (Paperback)

This novel was difficult to read. Not because it wasn't good - it was very good -- but because of the subject matter. I was hungry, I was cold, tired, lonely and filled with rage and frustration - I felt every feeling and thought every thought along with Olivia. I savored the prose and often stopped to reread passages - something I don't often do with the typical books
...more
Kimberley
Jun 15, 2009 Kimberley rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: friends
Recommended to Kimberley by: won it through a goodreads giveaway
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jody Lewis
For those of you who don't know, I picked up this book because my Mother's name is also Carolyn Wall! :)

I've had the book for months but only just finally got into enough to finish it. The opening was a little hard to follow so every other time I started it, I didn't have the patience to push through and figure out the scenes & characters. However, once I did the read was good. I found the characters interesting (even more so after reading the author's prologue, when she explained how &
...more
LJ
SWEEPING UP GLASS (Novel/Mys-Olivia Harker-Kentucky-1930s) – Ex
Wall, Carolyn D. – 1st book
Poisoned Pen Press, 2008, US Hardcover – ISBN: 9781590585122

First Sentence: The long howl of a wolf rolls over me like a toothache.

Olivia Harker lives with her grandson in a run-down, cold-water building with a grocery out front, a small bedroom, kitchen and sleeping alcove in back and an outhouse. Her emotionally abusive mother lives an a shack separate from the house.
Someone is killing silver-faced wolve
...more
Julia
I really enjoyed this book - it was so absorbing - and a great storyline.It was both chilling and enchanting the way it ended.
Pamela
"Without love, there is only a great empty space that we fill with whatever's handy."

Fierce, endearing, and powerful. Serious southern literary-fiction along a converging vein of: Harper Lee, Hemingway, and Eudora Welty - except within the gritty parameters of hardscrabble Appalachia in the early twentieth century.

"Sweeping Up Glass" is a novel that evokes a broad range of emotions, as it relates to multifarious complex issues: property rights, family, racial prejudice, economic depression, gen
...more
Nancy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Pessolano
"Sweeping Up Glass" takes place in Pope County, Kentucky and tells the story of the people living in the town of Aurora. The time spans the life of Olivia Harker Cross from when she was a little girl until the later part of her life.

Olivia's father owns the General Store and tends to sick animals. He is also the source for the town's moonshine. Ida, Olivia's mother, has had a mental breakdown and has been placed in a state home.

Olivia's father hs come acroos a secret meeting and becomes privy to
...more
Michele Abbott
I just can’t get enough of the generational Appalachian stories, so this was the book I read immediately after “Bloodroot.” And wow, what a book. Taking place in the rural mountains of Kentucky, this richly detailed book will allow you to feel every sensation: gnawing hunger pains, the howling wind against your face, the frigid soil beneath your feet, the sharp crack of bone under a bullet, and the utter desolation of hope in the face of survival. The backdrop is definitely depressing, painted w ...more
Trudy
SPOILERS! Well, the first half of this book was so good. The writing was beautiful and character development was great. However, after that the story lost some of its'appeal for me. I found myself struggling to get past certain tragic events which did not seem to make sense to me. For example what happened to the relationship between Octavia and Wing. I understand his grief and her feelings of rejection, but this was just not a good flow for me. Also, the jump from Ida being young to old was jus ...more
Gwen Mayo
I began reading this book because Carolyn Wall and I were going to be on a historical mystery panel together at Bouchercon 2011. Though I love American historical mystery, depression era ones are not my usual read. Wall surprised me with vivid characters trapped in a harsh situation in a troubled community.

Wow!

I was drawn in quickly and held tight to the end. I would not want to be Olivia, from childhood through her experience as a grandparent, life was harsh, impoverished, and filled with pai
...more
Colleen
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I loved the Olivia's, the main character and narrator's, voice and felt invested in the other characters too. I felt that the main storyline, a broken family living in KY just after the turn of the 20th century and their past, was interesting and captivating. However, it felt like the story was slow moving at times and then would hurry and rush through the more significant scenes. It also felt at the end, as a huge mystery was unveiled, like there should hav ...more
Lesley
Understanding that this was a work of fiction, I would have preferred that the author had done a bit of research about Kentucky before attempting this novel. The characters' dialect was uneven and any real sense of place was completely lacking.

The story moves quickly, but it is choppy. The first third of the book takes its time building up the story, but the rest of the book seems rushed and predictable. I never got a real feel for the relationships between the characters, other than the feelin
...more
Natasha
SPOILER ALERT: This was kind of boring. At first I really wanted to know what it was that Olivia had that Phelps so greatly needed. Then it was revealed what the big secret was and it didn't make sense. Her dad had 2 books that listed all the people that the cott'ners (the Klan basically) had killed and where they were buried and even included sketches of specific hangings. But it read like her pap accidentally happened upon ONE meeting. How could he have had such detailed documentation? Oh and ...more
Casey
Like many others have said, this novel was just a little too derivitive of To Kill a Mockingbird (and other such novels) for it to really work for me. I think a novel like this worked much better 50 or 60 years ago when readers (I don't think) were quite as jaded as they are now. I just had a hard time with some of the plot elements, as well as some of the characters. The novel deals heavily with racial issues, and while that is admirable, I don't think it brings anything new to the table, nor d ...more
Lisse
I love this book! From the first page to the last, it was beautifully written, always interesting and completely filled with emotion. I loved all of the characters, except the ones that are meant to be despised.

I don't feel the need to tell what the book is about b/c the description above does a very good job of that. What I do feel the need to say is that this is an incredible book and I am so glad that I read it. I would recommend it to anyone who likes To Kill A Mockingbird or any story that
...more
Joanne
As I read this book, I wasn't sure I really liked it, but as I got further into it, I started not wanting to put it down, because I wanted to learn what would happen next. And - I have to say, when I finished it, I felt sad, and I do miss reading it. It was fairly painful and difficult in many places, but it still pulled me into the story. I have to say, I liked it.
MaryJohanna
I received this book as a Goodreads Advance Reading Copy - and am so glad I did, as it's not one I would have picked up on my own.
The story is a hard one: a woman's bitter history with her mother and daughter; a grandmother scraping to make ends meet while raising her grandson and looking after her mother; the ominous presence of hunters recruited to wipe out a population of wolves and a long history of discrimination and hatred in a small, poor Kentucky county.

As reluctant as I was to start, on
...more
Barner
I purchased this novel as I was walking through Terget the other day. What a wonderful find!!!!

This is Carolyn Wall's first novel and it is extraordinary. I actually found myself sobbing aloud as I reached the conclusion. Due to the novel's suspense, reaching the conclusion does not take long.

The characters are wonderful, the intrigue is handled so well, the author's complete control is amazing.

This is the complicated story of intersecting lives in a poor area of Kentucky. The plot touches on f
...more
K
i received Sweeping Up Glass as an ARC from Book Browse First Impressions' program, and i do believe this was the first book in a long while that was a pleasure to read in order to review. i LOVED Sweeping Up Glass. i read over half of it the day i received it. it's reminiscient of To Kill A Mockingbird, but its story certainly stands alone. i loved the character of olivia...and there wasn't a false note throughout the entire book, nor was it predictable.

the book elicited such emotions from me..
...more
Karen
SPOILER ALERT! The story had enough possibility in the first half to keep me reading it through to the end. Main character Olivia is described as strong willed but often comes off as just plain stubborn if not just plain foolish. For much of the story she denies her love for the man she ultimately ends up with. So, after years of self-inflicted suffering she finds happiness.
There are some inconsistencies that were cleared up by the end. There is a mildly interesting mystery interwoven with the c
...more
Sandy
Oh, I did not want this book to end! I do have a general draw to books about the Appalachian Mountains people - it seems more than just that my birth roots are there. Sometimes I think it is the absolutely spare lives these people lead - no material "stuff" to hide emotion and living behind.

Even above that general draw, however, this book grabbed me and pulled me in. The first part was the drawing of the characters and the setting - Pap, Love Alice, Junk... They are so vivid. But then about mid
...more
Trish Lindsey Jaggers
Not to spoil the review I'm writing for the Bowling Green Daily News (BG Kentucky), this is one terrific novel--whether a first novel or the twenty-first. Situated in small-town Kentucky, this novel butts racism, classism, and sexism head-on . . . with strong, reliable characters that a reader can readily embrace . . .

Wall's prose is well-done and sharp--biting almost--lending itself well to the region without the over-done Southern vernacular for which Steinbeck is famous.

Easily read in a day,
...more
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2773405
Carolyn Wall is the author of the novel Sweeping Up Glass (Poisoned Pen Press; available in bookstores August, 2008). Her short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in over 100 publications. For many years she worked as Senior Staff Writer for Persimmon Hill, the award-winning publication of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and was chief writer for the museum’s children’ ...more
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