Saturday, December 12, 2009

Driving with Dead People by Monica Holloway

As many of you know I like cemeteries and funeral homes and obituaries. I am not all that morbid, I have simply discovered that the things that represent the end of life often have the most powerful stories contained within them.

When I picked up this book with a cursory glance at the back cover, it seemed to be about a young woman's coming of age as she worked at a small town mortuary and drove a hearse. About three quarters of the way through the book, while very compelling, I realized that this was more about a young woman's survival at the hands of abusive and neglectful parents. Although there was a thin thread running throughout this memoir about her friendship with the family who owned the mortuary and how she spent weekends driving a hearse to pick up bodies, the book really did not focus on that at all. It seemed a little like a bait and switch. What drew me to the book was not what kept me reading.

The beauty of this novel was that as more of Monica's life unfolded and the more you learned about her childhood of horrors, the more you realize on how many levels the family was and is Driving with Dead People. You realize that even though the thread of her job and the antics at a mortuary are only small stories in her memoir, they represent the happiest times of her life.

The writing is very compelling. It took me a few days to get into it, but overall, it reads very quickly and you will really root for the narrator and her sister. They are the true survivors and have managed to make it through the storm.

This book will remind readers of the Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Their style and storytelling abilities are quite similar.

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