Monday, December 22, 2008

Review: Driving with Dead People by Monica Holloway

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 bouts of violence and abuse, her mother's selfishness and prim denial, and her siblings' personal battles and betrayals, Monica never succumbs to despair. Instead, she forges her own way, thriving at school and becoming fast friends with Julie Kilner, whose father is the town mortician.

Throughout this remarkable memoir of her dysfunctional, eccentric, and wholly unforgettable family, Monica Holloway's prose shines with humor, clear-eyed grace, and an uncommon sense of resilience. Driving with Dead People is an extraordinary real-life tale with a wonderfully observant and resourceful heroine.

I loved this book! It seems that a lot of the memoirs I've read lately have had main characters who did nothing but whine and complain about their terrible childhood and how it wrecked their lives. This was not the case in Driving with Dead People.

Monica Holloway was brutally honest in telling her recollections of growing up, but she was also fair. Her story was told with a matter of factness that was refreshing and often funny. Holloway never pointed a finger at any of her family, nor did she adopt a "you ruined by life" type attitude. Her changing perceptions of her family member's were wonderfully portrayed, and I found my own opinions of her parents, for example, changing over the course of the book.

This memoir was beautifully written and I would recommend it to fiction and non-fiction readers alike, especially those who enjoyed The Glass Castle. 4.5 stars

Order Driving with Dead People

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