Denise's Reviews > Sweeping Up Glass

Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall
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Jun 09, 10

Read in July, 2009

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 I tend to pick up these days. I was looking for reading pleasure and I got that in this book in one way, but in another I was so drawn into Olivia's world that I experienced it with her and that meant I didn't find it comfortable to read too much at one sitting. It is an unflinching look at poverty, racism, buried secrets, and family bonds at a time in history when everything was HARD.

You will like this book and you should buy it if you like gritty stories of hardscrabble existence eked out in primitive conditions by a determined, plucky woman who has nothing going for her but a strong back and a sense of purpose. The setting is the Kentucky mountains, depression era, dirt poor. Olivia Harker Cross lives with her crazy mother Ida and her grandson Will'm in a shack attached to a small grocery. She stocks her shelves and feeds her family by making quilts and by working very hard. Her life revolves around staying alive, taking care of her grandson, and protecting the silver wolves that were reintroduced to the area by her grandfather. She is a friend to the blacks in a time where lynchings aren't uncommon and segregation is fierce. Even though there is a story line that involves hunters going after the wolves, the book is really a character study. Although some might not find them sympathetic and might even dislike them, they are all very real, uniquely flawed, and doing the best they can given the time, place, and circumstance.

I recommend it -- much to think about and good for a book group or class discussion. Would work perfectly as ancillary reading in an American History course re: 1930s lectures about the Great Depression and race relations.

Personal opinion: I do not agree with others who have likened the book to the classic To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) as the adult point of view and bitter voice of Olivia, although clear and honest, is not like the innocent child narrator Scout in that story.
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message 1: by Marlene (new)

Marlene Smith I started the novel on a westbound United flight, reading 100 pages a day. In 3+ days I finished the tale, wanting more. It is great for a book group/club, with Q & A at the end.


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