Reader reviews and comments on Sweeping Up Glass, plus links to write your own review.

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Sweeping Up Glass

by Carolyn Wall

Sweeping Up Glass
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2008, 278 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2009, 336 pages

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Beth (08/10/09)

A griping story with unforgettable characters and a surprising end
Carolyn Wall's debut novel is told in the simple, rural language of a poor mountain town in Depression-era Kentucky. The beginning of the book started slow but soon I was sucked in to the powerful narrative. It 's a heartfelt story filled with quirky, unforgettable characters and their loves, family secrets, and transformations.

Olivia Harker Cross is the center of this suspenseful story. She is proud, head strong and a survivor. the title refers to the shattered lives that need cleaning up. Olivia lives with her beloved grandson, Will'm in the small grocery store they run. When her daughter returns to reclaim Will'm, trouble intensifies and Olivia fights to save the life she's built. I grew to care about the unusual cast of characters. I kept reading anxious to know how their lives unfolded.

Themes of love, loss, betrayal, bigotry, death, and forgiveness give this book surprising depth and intensity. The ending was not what I expected which made me all the more impressed.
Janice (08/10/09)

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.
Erica (08/10/09)

Extraordinary Debut
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.
Power Reviewer Donna (08/10/09)

Wonderful Book
From the very first page the language created such clear pictures that I was immediately drawn into each scene. The setting is the 1930s in Kentucky, and I could feel what the times were like.

Olivia is the appealing main character, and the surrounding characters add great dimension. The book has such an honest feel to it that one can't help but get attached to all of them.

It was a great read.
Christine (08/10/09)

Sweeping Up Glass
I found this book to be a very easy read, easy to follow, and well written. The author kept my attention making me feel very much part of the story with her description of the area of Kentucky where the story took place. The suspense at the end in particular made me not want to put the book down.

This book would be an especially good book for summer reading, on vacations or just to pass a rainy weekend. The story would be appealing to the young adult/older teen however, the sexual descriptions in the last chapter may be objectionable to some.
Susan (08/10/09)

Complexity of Family Relationships
"Sweeping Up Glass" is a wonderful story exploring family relationships and the damage done by hate and deception. As the reader follows Olivia from childhood into adulthood, we can see the poor choices she makes but also the circumstances that are beyond her control. It is easy to sympathize with her and I found myself pulling for her throughout the book. This novel would be a great book group selection.
Chrisanne (08/10/09)

I can't get no ..Satisfaction
I love great narratives and characters that ignite passion and a plot that is dappled with factual fiction and this book has all that...however, it comes up short. I do think that it was delivered hastily and could have...should have... delved deeper into its own story...Instead of leaving me wanting more it has left me wanting to know more and knowing that it can't happen...kinda like waking in the middle of a great dream.
Ken (08/10/09)

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.
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