Sweeping Up Glass

Sweeping Up Glass

by Carolyn D. Wall

Gail Reid (03/31/13): What distinguishes this novel from other Depression era books are the actions and the voice of the lead character Olivia Harker Cross. In 1920's Kentucky, Olivia leads a hardscrabble life on her mountain where someone is trying to kill off her wolves.

Raised by a popular and concerned father and a mentally ill mother, Olivia grows up to make a meager living with the family's 1-room grocery while caring for her beloved grandson Will'm. Olivia's daughter Pauline, an unwed mother with foolish Hollywood aspirations, has left Will'm behind to be raised by his grandmother.

In searching for the wolf killers, Olivia unravels a 30-year old mystery that shakes up the town. Her friendships with Love Alice and Junk Hanley and other African Americans transcend the small-mindedness and bigotry of her neighbors in the segregated south and reinforces her strength in the novel.

Although the mystery propels the book along well, what I really enjoyed was the colloquial dialog. Olivia and the other characters seem to speak so authentically that I felt as if I was transported to the Kentucky of another century.

A surprisingly good read if this genre appeals to you.
Rating: ****

Debbie Weiss (02/11/13): Sweeping Up Glass is the Roswell Reads book selection for 2013 and I wanted to finish the book before I interviewed the author and attended the Roswell Reads luncheon in March. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. The story is written beautifully and one can clearly picture the people and the surroundings of the Kentucky town where the story takes place with ease. The characters are extremely well-developed and the story is filled with mysteries and unknowns. The main character, Olivia Harker, is a strong woman who has had a difficult life. None-the-less, she takes each day as it comes, caring for both her grandson and her mother, who has a mental illness. She loves the land on which she lives and the animals that inhabit the mountains around her. She is a good person, but no saint. I cared for her and for her well-being very much. I highly recommend this well-written and thought-provoking book.
Rating: ****

Judy Stanton (10/08/12): Carolyn Wall writes about small town life among the poor, using dialect, action and well developed characters to engage the reader. Set in Aurora, Kentucky, Sweeping Up Glass tells the story of Olivia Harker's life. Because you see what she has gone through growing up, having issues with a mentally ill mother, and not always understanding the reasoning behind her father's behavior, you come to empathize with her trials as an adult. The plot is filled with suspense and twists and turns which keep the reader interested and wanting to read more. The characters are real, having strengths and flaws, and facing difficult life challenges. A good, quick read, highly recommended.
Rating: ****

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