Chana's Reviews > Driving with Dead People

Driving with Dead People by Monica Holloway
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's review
Jun 25, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: american, memoirs-and-biographies
Read on June 25, 2012

The author has a great voice, she really is funny; but the story is just so grim! Crazy-making grim, brain-rattling grim.
Monica grows up in this family with a violent father who loves to humiliate his children. Obviously something is wrong with the man, probably his own rotten childhood. He is also quite a character, keeping a movie camera in the car so he can film things like car accidents and tornadoes. Monica develops a fascination with death when a young girl in her community dies. Then she becomes friends with the girl whose father owns the mortuary and the two of them do things like play in the coffins.
But something is wrong with Monica too, despite how funny she is and how successful she is. Something is wrong with all of her siblings as well. Her Mom is weirdly self-absorbed; first in the image of the family and later with her boyfriend. She ignores anything that does not fit the image and the life she wants to have. Basically she deserts Monica when she is in her teens leaving her living alone in the house with no money for food and other necessities.
All around it is bad, but then it gets worse when her older sister begins remembering childhood sexual abuse.
It would almost sound fanciful except I have seen this. An adult who is likely guilty of pedophilia and incest, children who accuse him but by then they are their own messed up selves and who believes these young adults who are addicts, who habitually lie, who can be violent, who are in the spotlight of the police and under the care of psychiatrists? Mr. Pedophilia looks like an upstanding citizen. Before you know it the next generation of little children are under scrutiny of CPS as likely victims of sexual abuse by guess who? The previous victim of the pedophile. And the strangest thing? The family denies and protects the pedophile. If I didn't see this denial with my own eyes I simply wouldn't believe it. Try talking to a family in denial and you will get silent disapproval as if you are the one doing wrong by daring to accuse or even ask questions about this person. And everyone continues to love this person because he is the father, grandfather, brother or whatever. It is so strange, but knowing this made Monica's story something that made sense to me. I wish it didn't make sense to me.
A very good and terrible read.
btw, just like most memoirs there are parts that do not ring true. I don't know whether this is faulty memory or just the amazing human ability to reconcile completely contradictory information as if it is all linear and makes total sense. Or could be just for the sake of writing a good page-turning story.

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