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Driving with Dead People: A Memoirby Monica Holloway
Synopses & Reviews
Small wonder that, at nine years old, Monica Holloway develops a fascination with the local funeral home. With a father who drives his Ford pickup with a Kodak movie camera sitting shotgun just in case he sees an accident, and whose home movies feature more footage of disasters than of his children, Monica is primed to become a morbid child.
Yet in spite of her father's bouts of violence and abuse, her mother's selfishness and prim denial, and her siblings' personal battles and betrayals, Monica never succumbs to despair. Instead, she forges her own way, thriving at school and becoming fast friends with Julie Kilner, whose father is the town mortician.
She and Julie prefer the casket showroom, where they take turns lying in their favorite coffins, to the parks and grassy backyards in her hometown of Elk Grove, Ohio. In time, Monica and Julie get a job driving the company hearse to pick up bodies at the airport, yet even Monica's growing independence can't protect her from her parents' irresponsibility, and from the feeling that she simply does not deserve to be safe. Little does she know, as she finally strikes out on her own, that her parents' biggest betrayal has yet to be revealed.
Throughout this remarkable memoir of her dysfunctional, eccentric, and wholly unforgettable family, Monica Holloway's prose shines with humor, clear-eyed grace, and an uncommon sense of resilience. Driving with Dead People is an extraordinary real-life tale with a wonderfully observant and resourceful heroine.
"Death lurks everywhere in Holloway's childhood. A neighbor boy accidentally shoots and kills a train conductor; a little girl is mowed down by a motorist. Her father's main hobby is filming grisly car wrecks and natural disasters, and her best friend's family runs the town mortuary. Observing the dead in their coffins, Monica wonders: would she be better off in a casket than alive in her parents' home? In this memoir, Holloway (an actress turned writer) tackles the horrifyingly familiar story of father/daughter incest: the secrecy that surrounds it and the ways it corrodes families from the inside out. Even though her memories of the abuse were repressed, evidence cropped up everywhere, from her chronic bed-wetting and compulsive lying as a girl to her adult attraction to abusive men; when her older sister, JoAnn, comes forward with her recollections, Holloway begins to remember her own trauma. As a writer, Holloway might not be in Mary Karr's league, but her blunt sentences deliver the unvarnished truth. In coming to terms with her tragedy, Holloway writes, 'Knowing there is no cavalry is much better than hoping for a cavalry that never comes.' Her memoir sings with the power of a disenfranchised woman finally finding her own voice, and her brutal memoir is hard to forget." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Holloway recounts her childhood fascination with death, which led to a close friendship with the local undertaker's daughter....[She] ingeniously presents her life via the theme of death." Library Journal
"Amidst a burgeoning number of abuse memoirs, Holloway's shines because of her deft handling of the small details while painstakingly assembling the larger picture." Booklist
"A meticulously reported account of one girl's journey through a violent and unpredictable childhood. Holloway's strong voice and remarkable sense of humor, in spite of the horror in her past, make this an unforgettable read." Hope Edelman, New York Times bestselling author of Motherless Daughters
"Memoir, at its best, opens my heart and gives me a view into the core perfection of another. Monica does this in the most essential way, going directly to perfect storytelling laced with irony and humor. She held my heart with her raw, unapologetic honesty, and she flawlessly rendered what it is like to be a child who sees everything, endures it, and still loves with her whole being." Jennifer Lauck, New York Times bestselling author of Blackbird and Still Waters
In this remarkable memoir, Price recounts scenes and events that are, without question, dreadful for any child; yet her prose shines with humor, clear-eyed grace, and an uncommon sense of resilience. Driving with Dead People is an extraordinary story with a resourceful heroine.
About the Author
Monica Holloway is an actress turned writer whose essay "Red Boots and Cole Haans" was described by Newsday as "brilliant, grimly hilarious." This is her first full-length book.
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