Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sweeping Up Glass” as Want to Read:
Sweeping Up Glass
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sweeping Up Glass

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,431 Ratings  ·  482 Reviews
Destined to be a classic, Sweeping Up Glass is a tough and tender novel of love, race, and justice, and a ferocious, unflinching look at the power of family.
Olivia Harker Cross owns a strip of mountain in Pope County, Kentucky, a land where whites and blacks eke out a living in separate, tattered kingdoms and where silver-faced wolves howl in the night. But someone is kil
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 4th 2009 by Quercus (first published 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sweeping Up Glass, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sweeping Up Glass

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This has been on my shelf for years. I don't know why I didn't read it sooner, because it's fantastic. The ending takes a little suspension of disbelief, but this book definitely deserved more attention. A full review to come.
Aug 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tom Mathews
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-lit
I learned long ago that when a book's blurb says that the book is like (insert name of a popular book here), they are setting you up for disappointment. Often, authors try to cash in on the success of a bestseller by pumping out a cheap knock-off of the original and they seldom succeed. Even so, when I saw 'Sweeping Up Glass' compared to To Kill a Mockingbird, one of my all-time favorite books, I couldn't resist and ordered it immediately. I'm glad that I did. Carolyn Wall is no 'wannabe'. She's ...more
Wow! This book is filled with characters that I will never forget.
Aug 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great way to spend a day with a book. The comparisons to To Kill a Mockingbird are apt, and though I didn't fall in love with Olivia to quite that extent, she's still a dependable and engaging narrator. Race relations, poverty, mountain life, violence all come together especially as the book picks ups momentum in the second half.
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
"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
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
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jun 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book is one rewrite from being fantastic.

Olivia is the responsible one. She's caring for Ida, whom she hates, and for Will'em, whom she loves with all of the intensity of a lifetime of disappointment. The store is not bringing in enough money and the house is falling down and there's not much to hope for in the future.

The first part of this book looks back at her history. The second looks squarely at the present.

Olivia is ignorant. She doesn't know why Ida, her mother, is so awful, but she
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
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
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is set in Kentucky during a time where racial persecution was harsh and a group like the KKK was in full power. I liked the start of this book. The author did such a great job with building the characters. They seemed vivid and I liked them from the beginning. The family dynamic was intriguing. I wanted to learn more.

Then it had moments of craziness that seemed hard to believe. It felt glossed over when more detail would have been useful just for the sake of plausiblity. I wish more ti
Nancy Baker
I found this a very captivating story. Life in the deep backwoods of the south can be a bit mind boggling for city folks, like me. Perhaps that is why I like to read stories that paint a picture of a lifestyle and time in which I will never know.

This story spans the life of Miss Olivia Harker. She was born to a mother whose mind became tangled in madness and left her incapable of knowing how to be both a mother and wife. With her Mom sent to an asylum, she forges through life learning from her
Jun 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 &
Michele Abbott
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favorites
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
Jul 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book - it was so absorbing - and a great storyline.It was both chilling and enchanting the way it ended.
Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : Sweeping Up Glass - Nevisande : Carolyn Wall - ISBN : 385343035 - ISBN13 : 9780385343039 - Dar 336 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2008
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wolf whistles for a ripping yarn

I enjoyed this - it was a book club recommendation and not a novel I would have chosen myself. I was not gripped initially but I stuck with it and soon was swept up in this strange poverty stricken isolated world. It is a tale of two halves - the childhood,then the almost Gothic horror filled adulthood. The a story was good, unexpected, well written, and gripping.
Paul Pessolano
Feb 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Gwen Mayo
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.


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
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Tomato Girl
  • The Well and the Mine
  • The Clearing
  • Love in Condition Yellow: A Memoir of an Unlikely Marriage
  • Cataloochee
  • Outside Wonderland
  • Signs in the Blood (An Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mystery #1)
  • Swimming
  • Page From A Tennessee Journal
  • Coal Black Horse
  • Tending to Virginia
  • A Parchment of Leaves
  • The Bee-Loud Glade
  • The Truest Pleasure
  • Sufficient Grace
  • Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger
  • Moon Women
  • The Summer We Got Saved
Carolyn D. 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 childr ...more
More about Carolyn Wall

Fiction Deals

  • Echoes of Family
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Checking Out
    $4.99 $1.99
  • This Is the Story of You
    $13.99 $1.99
  • Outlaw
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Transit
    $9.99 $3.99
  • Class Mom
    $13.99 $2.99
  • Drawing Lessons
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Revolution 2020
    $3.99 $0.99
  • A General Theory of Oblivion
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Bloom Girls
    $3.99 $1.99
  • So B. It
    $6.74 $1.99
  • Island Beneath the Sea
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Petersburg
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Life is What You Make It: A Story of Love, Hope and How Determination Can Overcome Even Destiny
    $1.99 $0.99
  • As Good as True
    $4.99 $1.99
  • First Comes Love
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Last Telegram
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Spinning Heart: A Novel
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Ocean Liner
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Every Day Is Mother's Day
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Big Breasts and Wide Hips
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Breakdown: A Love Story
    $3.99 $0.99
  • A Blaze of Glory (Civil War: 1861-1865, Western Theater, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The House Girl
    $8.24 $1.99
  • The Shepherdess of Siena
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Man Who Could Be King
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Challenger Deep
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Mosquitoland
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Just a Couple of Days
    $9.99 $2.99
  • An Irish Country Love Story
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Wildflowers (Glenbrooke, #8)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • A Mother's Secret (Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Chasing Rainbows: A Novel
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Vagrants
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Perfect Son
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Winnowing Season (Amish Vines and Orchards, #2)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Feathered Bone
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    $12.99 $2.99