Janice M. (Holland, MI)
Sweeping up Glass
This is one of my favorite reads so far this year. The story and characters are memorable making the book hard to put down. It takes place in Kentucky when segregation was accepted. There are many threads that get connected in the end - a mother who was committed to an asylum only to return home and wreak havoc, lynching, young love lost, prostitution, living a hard scrabble life and poaching, just to name a few story lines. I will be recommending this book to my reading groups and can't wait to read it again.
Wendy R. (California)
Carolyn Walls novel begins in the future and quickly steps back into the past where the reader learns about Olivias childhood, setting the stage for the events to come. What begins as a quiet novel picks up intensity in the second half, particularly in the final 100 pages or so, as everything comes to a head. It almost seemed like two different novels in a way: the first half being more of a life story and the second being the suspense-filled mystery. And while I could fault another novel for this, I actually thought it worked quite well. The transition happened gradually and the story threads were interwoven from beginning to end.
The novel is set in the late 1930s, at least in terms of the current story thread. The time period plays an especially important role in the novel. Life was hard all over the United States at that time and in the decades preceding it, people struggling to make ends meet. In Pope County Kentucky, where the novel is set, it was no different. Carolyn Wall captures the desperation of the times as well as the adaptability of the people. People bartered with food and services when they could not pay. Segregation was commonplace and racism ran rampant.
Told in the voice of Olivia, the narrative is uncomplicated, her wry humor coming out now and then. The pages are filled with characters well worth getting to know, and Olivias story is one that will surely touch the readers heart. The secrets uncovered are chilling and the resolution is satisfying. The novel is as complex as Olivia Harker. Sweeping Up Glass is a love story, a mystery, and historical novel that touches on social issues that still reverberate today.
Kathy (Brookfield, CT)
"Sweeping Up Glass" is one of the best debut novels I have read recently. The author does a wonderful job of drawing one into the lives of the characters. Definitely recommend for book clubs.
Gigi K. (Lufkin,, TX.)
Sweeping up glass can be hazardous and difficult
A community gripped by fear exhibits inappropriate and unhealthy behaviors. An unspeakable secret is at the core. One brave girl and admiration for her father unravel the secret and change the course. A fast read that tempts you to read it in one sitting would appeal to anyone between sixteen and one-hundred sixteen.
Ken Favell (Mukwonago, Wisconsin)
Sweeping Up Glass is a winner!
Christine Wall's Sweeping Up Glass has to be one of the finest novels that I've read this year. This is a story filled with heart, most of it generated by its wonderful narrator Olivia Harker Cross, an honest hard-working Kentuckian. Olivia's grit and determination reminded me of another Kentuckian Gertie Nevells, Harriette Arnow's main character in The Dollmaker.
From its opening pages I knew that Sweeping Up Glass was going to be a special story. The reader finds Olivia distraught at the heartless killings of wolves on her land. The carcasses are left with one ear cut off. Olivia's determination to find the guilty party amidst the continuing sacrifices she makes for her family set up what is to follow.
I think the novel's most memorable relationship is the one between Olivia and her young grandson Will'm. She's raised Will'm like a son ever since her daughter abandoned him for better things in Hollywood. Olivia's love for Will'm knows no bounds. Thanks to Olivia's vigilance we see him growing into a kind, sensitive, compassionate young man.
Sweeping Up Glass is an absorbing story of grief, hardship. love and hate with characters that ring out with the resonance of truth. I loved it! A perfect selection for reading groups.
Sharon W. (Two Rivers, WI)
Sweeping Up Glass
When I first started reading the book, I wasn't sure that I would like it. After I got into it a little more, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I felt like I was living there with them. Everyone involved had a very hard life. It almost read like a memoir instead of a novel. It was a hard book to put down, once I really got involved in it.
Erica L. (Plaistow, New Hampshire)
Carolyn Wall does a fabulous job with her debut novel, Sweeping Up Glass. I could not put this book down and couldn't wait to get out of work to read more. The characters were so clearly described that I wish we could have learned some of their stories as well. This book could have been far longer because there are so many side stories that remain a mystery. Carolyn could write an entire new novel from Ida's prospective, there are so many questions to answer about her past. It would be a great book for book groups because there are so many different angles and points of view to discuss.