Patricia S. (Yankton, SD)
Haunting and compelling
Starting literally with breaking glass, Carolyn Wall, continues the metaphor throughout her haunting and compelling novel, Sweeping up Glass. Olivia Cross is figuratively sweeping up the glass of her confusing past and struggling present as the novel builds to a shattering climax. This story of tragedies, many types of love, and final triumph is one of the best I have read in a long time. Haunted by the wolves' howl, I was sorry to see it end, and I intend to recommend it for my book club after it comes out in August.
Sheryl R. (DeQuincy, LA)
Complex characters, compelling story
This compelling book is full of complex characters whose lives all touch and dramatically change one another as the story unfolds. Although a little slow to get started, the development of the characters require this leisurely pace and add to the drama of the story. Full of interlocking themes of love for humans, animals, and the land, and hate in all its guises and complexities, it offers a very multi-faceted look at the human condition, its challenges and joys, and the ultimate battle between good and evil. While the themes aren't new, the story is compelling, surprising, and enjoyable.
Angela S. (Howell, MI)
I loved this book from beginning to end. The writing is smooth, the characters gritty and real and the embedded secrets are deep. When I started this book I was hooked, but I did not expect the last 100 pages to be so full of twists and turns and so action packed! Towards the end I was reading so quickly I had to force myself to slow down and absorb it all. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story and who cheers for the underdogs.
Priscilla B. (Marietta, GA)
It began so well!
I enjoyed reading this book and meeting the rural Kentuckians. The novel was going along so well and then it wasn't. The story took off in too many directions, plots and sub-plots, and never came together. I reread the book and still found much of it implausible. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but this is fiction! An implausible ending tacked on to a story of poverty, racism, hardship.
That said, you would not be wasting your time if you read this book. Nuggets of simple truths and wisdom are there. The gritty character of Olivia is memorable.
Marie (Warner, NH)
Sweeping Up Glass
Carolyn Wall's novel would present itself well at a women's group book club. The discussion could be spirited in exploring the following aspects presented in the novel: love, hate; honesty, deception; good, evil; sanity, insanity; courage, cowardice; benevolence, animosity; murder, mystery, and prejudice. All of this in 319 pages--an ambitious undertaking, indeed.
There are characters to be admired as well as those to be abhorred but nevertheless unforgettable since they could well exist anywhere. The dysfunctional relationship between Olivia and her mother Ida, between Olivia and daughter Pauline are sad and remain unresolved.Then there are characters to be protected--the wolves and their offspring, Will'm, Olivia's grandson, the "coloreds" and Olivia's father Tate.
In the novel, Wall hints at "the mystery"and gives subtle clues; however, by the time the mystery is solved for us, the novel ends--almost too quickly.
Overall, an interesting read with characters to analyze, incidents to marvel at, and hard times to ponder. I recommend this debut novel.
Mary Ellen B. (Hebron, CT)
Sweeping Up Glass
This is a powerful story of a woman caught between history and her own difficult family relationships. Olivia Harker Cross is raised on a mountain in Kentucky, an existence that challenges her resourcefulness. A bittersweet first love, coupled with the dysfunction of her mentally ill mother, her estranged daughter and the grandson she cherishes pulls her in many directions. Underlying her life are the mysterious dealings of her father and a group of local men whose racism is brought to light in a startling revelation. A meaningful and explosive story that holds the reader's interest to the last page.
Ann S. (Shenandoah, Iowa)
Sweeping Up Glass
The voice of Olivia Harker Cross draws the reader in the struggles of the depression as well as the horrors of prejudice and segregation. The plot line is certainly broad and wide in scope as life is. I felt that the conclusion was somewhat forced and rushed. Even so, the book is an excellent read and provides a plethora of themes for thought and discussion. I would heartily recommend it to others adults as well as teens.