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Driving with Dead People: A Memoir Paperback – March 4, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Holloway's candid story starts out innocently enough as she describes her eccentric family, especially her father, who loved "talking gore" and kept a movie camera in his pick-up for filming gruesome wrecks. Monica, too, has an obsession with death, and revels in her friendship with a mortician's daughter and their access to postmortems. When Monica reaches her teen years, her parents divorce. Her mother then decides it's "her turn," and she goes back to college, often leaving Monica and her next oldest sister alone. Holloway perceptively writes about hurtful moments embedded in her memory, such as her parents repeatedly telling her that her birth was a "mistake," and her mother's selfish refusal to pay for treatment for a kidney infection. The final piece of this dysfunctional family's puzzle falls into place when the oldest sister begins to remember being molested by their father; so, too, does Monica. 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. Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416955127
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416955122
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Monica Holloway is the critically acclaimed author of the memoir "Driving With Dead People," described by Newsweek as "unforgettable," Glamour christened this work "a classic," and the Washington Post deemed it "irresistible." Holloway contributed to the anthology "The Bigger the Better the Tighter the Sweater" and "Mommy Wars," from which her essay "Red Boots and Cole Haans" was described by Newsday as "brilliant, grimly hilarious."

Holloway's new bestselling memoir, "Cowboy & Wills," is the story of her lovable, brilliant autistic son, Wills, and the remarkable dog that coaxes him into the world. PEOPLE magazine commented: "Readers would do well to listen to this sweet and heartbreaking tale of boy-dog love. There are so many of us, with or without autism, who have our animals to thank for helping us connect." The Washington Post called "Cowboy & Wills" "charming" and the author "forthright and winning."

"Cowboy & Wills" is the prestigious Mom's Choice Awards® Gold Recipient for 2010.

Monica is an official spokesperson for the National Center for Family Literacy and Autism Speaks, raising awareness and participation for two issues she cares about deeply as a mother and author. She is the recipient of 2011 Women of Distinction Award from the Special Needs Network for work in the community.

Holloway lives in Los Angeles with her family and two golden retrievers, a hamster, four hermit crabs, three dumpy frogs, two rabbits and six neon tetras.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By authorwork on March 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book with rapt attention. The young girl's voice was so authentic and innocent, I found myself fully engaged by the end of the first page. The writing is excellent and the humor is expertly placed throughout. This girl is real and human and courageous beyond belief. I cheered to see her come out on top after crying with her and her sister in the struggle to get there.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By AEGT on March 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is a joy to read; not a thing typically said of a book about family violence and sexual abuse. Somehow Monica recalls her turbulent childhood and her struggles to reach adulthood with such grace and humor that you find yourself crying and smiling at the same time. The book is definitely sad at times, but never depressing. I loved it, and found myself loving Monica and her sister with all my heart. The hope and love and determination shown by these girls, now women, shines through! This book is a keeper!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on March 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Driving with Dead People is the book you want for your long plane ride or a bad weather day because it will keep you turning the pages and not wanting it to end. The story is revealed in a unique way, keeping a serious subject as light as possible. This is a must read!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jerri Farris on February 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Monica Holloway takes us along on the ride of her life, and it's oh-so-worth the trip. She's a fabulous story teller and she has amazing stories to tell. Some of them made me wince; some made me laugh; others made me cry.

In the middle of a chaotic weekend, I stayed up into the wee hours for two nights to finish this book. My advice? Buy Driving with Dead People. Take the phone off the hook and cancel your plans. All you're going to want is more.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ilonka M. O'Neil on March 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Holloway performs the delicate balance of making you laugh hysterically, as you read about her very tragic childhood. Not easy to pull off, but she does it seamlessly.

This book is so good. Once you start, it's impossible to put it down. You love the girl Monica was and the woman she becomes.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Terri Barreras on April 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I could not put this book down. In fact, I didn't want it to end. Monica has incredible talent as a writer. This unbelievable book reads like a novel, yet is all true events. Her words flow like magic. Not only does the heartbreak come through, but there are moments of laugh-aloud comedy. One of the best memoirs I have ever read. Keep writing Monica, you are one talented author!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie J. Miller on March 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As someone who grew up with Monica in her hometown, I am speechless. I recognized so many people in this book, and was amazed at what Monica and her siblings went thru. I always thought she was one of the most together people I ever knew, and definitely one of the most talented. To think that she was going thru all these horrible things right under my nose shocks me. She has written a funny, heart-rending book that will make you feel like you have peeking thru her windows. Read this book. It will show you that incest and abuse continue to go on right under our noses today, even in the smallest of communities. Thank you, Monica.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stefanie Taylor on April 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If there's something I love it's a memoir, but if there's something I love even more, it's a great story. I was given this book by a friend because she was sure it would be in my wheelhouse - quirky, brazen, honest storytelling is what I crave. Too many authors either sugar coat the events of their life or dramatize them so much as to become unbelievable. Once you've stopped believing, you're doomed to be outside of the story and that is the shortest way to ruin the experience.

This story opens in an almost matter-of-fact tone, the author just telling about her life as if she was there that moment. But she takes us on a ride so thrilling, disturbing and in the end sad yet hopeful that I'm sure, I KNOW that anyone who reads this book will be touched even if they can't relate.

The protaganist experiences so much that her young mind cannot possibly process. And in the end, the pain is too great to bear alone so she seeks help in some of the wrong places and some of the right places. This memoir is about perserverence and I can relate.

It is beautifully written, not too descriptive (she doesn't take a half page describing a chair) and moves so quickly you'll finish before you've even really started.

I compare this book to [...] because that was one of my favorite all time books and I truly feel this one reaches those same heights of literary talent.
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