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Driving with Dead People

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  5,327 ratings  ·  535 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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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,327 ratings  ·  535 reviews

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Aug 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, bookclub
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
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
BAM Endlessly Booked
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, memoirs
The book greatly affected me and I can't tell you how or why without spoilers.

2017 Lenten nonfiction Buddy Reading Challenge book #36
Apr 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
May 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
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
Aug 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Apr 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wow. What a ride. I kept thinking of Jeannette Walls and The Glass Castle. I don't know how people can share their deepest, darkest personal experiences like this. It had to be very therapeudic for the author. She is a survivor and I hope her parents burn in hell. ...more
Colleen Chi-Girl
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 12, 2009 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.
Jennifer Lauck
Mar 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Monica has become a friend of mine, so I cannot possibly say a bad thing about her book! It's wonderful, funny, stunningly sad and heroic. I love this book and recommend it to students for humor and just damn good story telling. ...more
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, favorites
This one is going on my favorites shelf. It might not be appropriate reading for all as the author tells the story of her dysfunctional youth and family. I enjoyed her attitude/perspective and related to her ultimate 'moving on' to capture a life that feels happy for her. ...more
Sharon Huether
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
Monica narrates her story, with profound humor, wit and the reality of abuse.
She is the heroine trying to take care of her older siblings and herself.
It was a page turner. It's truth and rawness will remaine with me for a long time.
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I wanted to give this book 5 stars but changed my mind after much deliberation and discussion with a book club I attend.
If you think this book has anything to do with a person who works at a mortuary, you are wrong. Does that count as a spoiler?
I was misguided by the book’s summary which frustrated and annoyed me at times.
Instead this memoir follows the author from young childhood to adulthood with unsettling descriptions of abuse and neglect. She discusses her attempts to bind the family mem
Karen Rush
Nov 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Memoirs are so incredibly interesting and this was a reminder that no one really knows what goes on behind the front door of someone else's home. Little Monica, how could you not love her? I did and am left happy that through all the struggles of a severely dysfunctional family, she survived. And what a heart! I would like to know her. Peace to you, Monica! ...more
Sarah McIntire
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, excellent, excellent! Heartbreaking and dark, yet lighthearted and told with such hope.
Mar 12, 2018 rated it liked it
The title of the book intrigued me, so I got it from the library. It turns out that her summer job for the funeral home plays a minor role in the story. Clearly it is about disfunction in her family - a mean and nasty father and an oddly distant and neglectful mother. I wasn't prepared for the disclosure of abuse and think I would have appreciated some foreshadowing or liner notes to prepare me for it. The author is a good writer, with a wry perspective on the disfunction. I found that the book ...more
Feb 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Christy Baugher
Oct 31, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
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
Dec 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Oct 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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. ...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

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