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Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall (excerpt)

Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall (excerpt)

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Destined to be a classic, Sweeping Up Glass is a tough and tender novel of love, race, and justice, and a ferocious, unflinching look at the power of family.

Olivia Harker Cross owns a strip of mountain in Pope County, Kentucky, a land where whites and blacks eke out a living in separate, tattered kingdoms and where silver-faced wolves howl in the night. But someone is killing the wolves of Big Foley Mountain–and Olivia is beginning to realize how much of her own bitter history she’s never understood: Her mother’s madness, building toward a fiery crescendo. Her daughter’s flight to California, leaving her to raise Will’m, her beloved grandson. And most of all, her town’s fear, for Olivia has real and dangerous enemies.

Now this proud, lonely woman will face her mother and daughter, her neighbors and the wolf hunters of Big Foley Mountain. And when she does, she’ll ignite a conflict that will embroil an entire community–and change her own life in the most astonishing of ways.
Destined to be a classic, Sweeping Up Glass is a tough and tender novel of love, race, and justice, and a ferocious, unflinching look at the power of family.

Olivia Harker Cross owns a strip of mountain in Pope County, Kentucky, a land where whites and blacks eke out a living in separate, tattered kingdoms and where silver-faced wolves howl in the night. But someone is killing the wolves of Big Foley Mountain–and Olivia is beginning to realize how much of her own bitter history she’s never understood: Her mother’s madness, building toward a fiery crescendo. Her daughter’s flight to California, leaving her to raise Will’m, her beloved grandson. And most of all, her town’s fear, for Olivia has real and dangerous enemies.

Now this proud, lonely woman will face her mother and daughter, her neighbors and the wolf hunters of Big Foley Mountain. And when she does, she’ll ignite a conflict that will embroil an entire community–and change her own life in the most astonishing of ways.

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Publish date: Aug 4, 2009
Added to Scribd: Jul 18, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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10/04/2013

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Activity (109)

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mojomomma_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
This book was on display at my local public library as a patron favorite and I certainly agree. This is one of the best books and most engaging stories that you've never heard of--I hadn't anyway! Set in depression-era Aurora, Kentucky we meet Olivia, a middle-aged woman who runs the local grocery store and raises her grandson and takes care of her mentally ill mother. She's had a hard, sad life and as she uncovers the secret her father protected her from, it gets even harder.
cbjames_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn D. Wall was my book club's most recent book. We were divided. Three members loved it, two were indifferent, three hated it. They didn't say they hated it, they said they "had issues with it." That's book-club-ease for "I hated it." I had issues with it. To start with Sweeping up Glass is written in the present tense. I don't approve of the use of present tense in novels, maybe a little, maybe a paragraph here and there for effect, but not for an entire novel. Many people have done this, some have won awards and been very successful, but I've never liked it. It annoys me. The present tense is for book reviews, not for books. But I'm willing to own that; it could very well just be me. Sweeping Up Glass has a very long flashback sequence used to provide the background needed to understand the characters and the narrative. I'm not a fan of long flashbacks, unless they involve a doomed Parisian love affair, but at least this part of the novel was in the past tense. Several of the characters in Sweeping Up Glass do things that I found hard to believe. This is my biggest issue with the book. For example, the narrator, a country woman, takes a wounded wolf into her kitchen and tries to nurse it back to health. This does not go well. Afterwards she and her grandson try to save the wolf's three, now motherless, cubs. This also does not go well either. A woman who has lived her entire life in the mountains of Kentucky ought to know better than to try something like this. My book club argued that her father was a self-trained vet, so she was used to attempts to rescue animals. Okay, I'll buy that, but we're talking about a fully grown wolf. In one's kitchen. There's no way that's going to work. I had three more examples but I can't discuss them without spoiling the book. If my book club is typical then approximately 43% of the people who read Sweeping Up Glass will love it. I don't want to spoil it for them anymore than I probably already have.It could just be me.
kathydassaro reviewed this
Rated 4/5
When I first started this book I didn't think I would like it at all and chances are you won't either. But when I finished it, I was pleasantly surprised. Ms. Wall is a wonderful writer and storyteller. To be honest, the first part of this book dragged for me. The setting and mood was dark and depressing, although I am sure this aspect may appeal to many. I didn't really like many of the characters and didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel. About a third of the way in, the mood lightened a bit. The story came back to the "present" and the relationship between the main character and her grandson brightened the whole story. I became more and more interested in the storyline with each chapter. By the end of the book I found myself reading a little bit every chance I got and even stayed up way too late finish the book. That being said this is not one of those books I wish hadn't ended so soon. It was just long enough for me (two kids and very busy). And although the characters were well developed, I don't think they will "stay" with me like in other novels I have read. Bottom line, I enjoyed the writing so much that I would surely give her next book a try.
unkletom_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I learned long ago that when a book's blurb says that the book is like (insert name of a popular book here), they are setting you up for disappointment. Often, authors try to cash in on the success of a bestseller by pumping out a cheap knock-off of the original and they seldom succeed. Even so, when I saw 'Sweeping Up Glass' compared to 'To Kill A Mockingbird', one of my all-time favorite books, I couldn't resist and ordered it immediately. I'm glad that I did. Carolyn Wall is no 'wannabe'. She's a great author in her own right. Is 'Sweeping Up Glass' a new 'Mockingbird'? No, but there are a lot of striking similarities. Both have young girls living with a kindhearted father in the South, assuming you consider the Kentucky hill country 'South'. Both address the subjects of racism and poverty. In both books, black people are helpful, kindly and hard-working and white people's behavior is often contingent on the color of a person's skin. Both books address essential deficiencies in the legal systems of the day and both books have dangerous, drunken bullies. Nevertheless, 'Sweeping Up Glass' is not a pale imitation of 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. It is an excellent novel in its own right, full of well developed characters, good and evil, and a thrilling plot full of dark secrets, senseless violence and great courage. The last 100 pages will likely keep you up well into the night to find out how it ends. While Harper Lee wrote 'Mockingbird' from the perspective of an optimistic young girl who learns about life, Carolyn Wall's debut novel views life through the eyes of a middle aged grandmother who has spent decades being beaten down by poverty, neglect and tragedy. It has a brooding, melancholy air about it that is reminiscent of Norman Blake's poignant bluegrass ballad, 'Lonesome Jenny'. After a while the reader wonders if the sun ever shines in Aurora, Kentucky, and then realizes that the gloom is more a representation of Olivia's outlook than the weather. This is a powerful story and well worth your time.
acook_713547 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
There are many reviews below that sum up this book and give you details about "what it's about." I read it through in a rapid fashion because it held my interest, but I found it very depressing. So much poverty, and the animal parts are hard to read. One aspect that was interesting to me was the relative value of money back then (which, incidentally, was never specifically spelled out, sometime during the Depression is all you can surmise, unless I missed it). There is a lot about this selling for 8 cents, that for 3 cents, 12 cents for a long distance phone call. The novelty of indoor plumbing, electricity coming to the house, that sort of thing was also interesting. I also felt it wound up a little too neatly, and a little too happily and optimistically for the type of book it was. I would give it 3.5 stars, but being somewhat new to LT, I haven't yet figured out yet how to do half stars.
sugarcreekranch reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Originally, this book appealed to me because it appeared to be a mystery regarding wolves – an environmentalist vs opportunist tale. But I was wrong. The wolf element is a parallel to the real plot of the story, but it is only a small part, and it’s not what “the book is about”.This book is about the struggles of a depression-era black woman. It’s about racism. It’s about poverty. It’s about family, and community, and standing up for what you believe it. The first part of the book is an amazing character study. It then transitions into more of suspenseful, plot-driven book. It is an emotionally difficult read at times. This is not a book that you read for entertainment value; it’s a literary work that requires the right frame of mind.
sharlene_w reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Comparing this "first book" to "To Kill a Mockingbird", or the writer to Harper Lee was a strong recommendation. I had my doubts, but Carolyn Wall did not disappoint. I can't wait for more from her. Sweeping Up Glass is a compelling story of family and racism in the South with endearing characters, a story to tell and a lesson to teach. I listened to the audio version and Lorna Raver did a superb job of bringing the characters to life. Highly recommended.
jennyg_773427 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I highly recommend Sweeping Up Glass to anyone who enjoys Southern literature, rich characters, and excellent storytelling. There were several times that I found a lump beginning to form in my throat as I was reading this novel and I genuinely cared about the characters. Even though the book did, as others said, change its tone halfway through, I actually didn’t find that too jarring. That being said, I preferred the beginning plot, which was more character-driven, than the ending. I agree with the previous reviewer in that then ending tied itself up a little too neatly and was unbelievable. Still, I have found a new author to enjoy, and I love Ms. Wall’s writing.
maryolliffe reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Before I get too far down some random road, I feel I need to say I liked this book/ books. The reason I mention book(s) is best described below in the review by msbaba, who describes the first portion of the book as a wonderfully written character study and the last few chapters as a suspense thriller. I liked them both because at any given time I can appreciate both genres, however, I found the change somewhat jarring in this book to the the point where I almost flipped to the front page and started reading again, for fear I had missed something really big (and obvious). Long story short, liked the book, would recommend it to others, and would read another by the same author. In this case, the flaws don't negate the overall quality of the writing and the experience of 1930's Kentucky.
grigoro_1 reviewed this
Rated 5/5
This is a lovely book that I couldn't put down. A mystery (who is killing the wolves on Olivia Harker's property?), a love story, a history lesson on race relations in 1930's Kentucky and, most of all, a story of family. The first half of the story is narrated with childlike innocence by the young Olivia, then returns to the present day and the dangerous goings-on in the small town in the hills of Kentucky. A wonderful debut.

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