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Sweeping Up Glass: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Carolyn Wall
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.94
You Save: $5.06 (34%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.


From the Trade Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The strong, fresh narrative voice pulls the reader in and doesn't let go in Wall's stunning debut. Someone is killing wolves on Olivia Harker's Kentucky property for sport, and Olivia aims to find the culprit. Meanwhile, Olivia recounts her childhood with an adored father and a mad mother in the brutally segregated Depression-era South. In quick succession, Olivia finds and loses love, gives birth, marries an unloved suitor and becomes a widow. Olivia's daughter, wild and ambitious, hands Olivia her own out-of-wedlock baby to raise, a boy named Will'm. When the probable persecutor of Olivia's wolves sets his sights on her beloved Will'm, Olivia clarifies a decades-old mystery, unwittingly bringing danger to the impoverished local community of blacks who've been her guardian angels. As the action moves inexorably to its explosive conclusion, Olivia must come to grips with past betrayals, thereby earning a second chance at love, redemption and long overdue justice. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This debut novel does so much more than traditional, tightly focused mysteries. It has a powerfully, sometimes uncomfortably, realized setting; characters who seem drawn from life; and a wide-ranging plot, bursting with complications. The title captures the book’s theme: a heroine forced to clean up the shards of her own and other people’s messes. The setting is Depression-era Kentucky, pared down to one makeshift bedroom in a grocery store, where narrator Olivia and a cast-off boy live, and the tar-paper shack where Olivia’s crazy, mean mother lives. Someone is hunting wolves out back of the grocery where Olivia ekes out a living; soon she and the boy become prey as well. The dead-end feeling intensifies when the boy’s mother returns. Olivia, pressed for time, energy, and food, must encounter her own uncomfortable past to save herself and the boy. A gripping story and a truly original voice—Wall is a new author to watch closely. --Connie Fletcher

Product Details

  • File Size: 478 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385343035
  • Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition (August 4, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002HMJZA0
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,262 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Broken Spell August 2, 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Carolyn Wall's debut novel "Sweeping Up Glass" starts with such a strong literary impact that I had to remind myself to keep breathing. There was so much heartbreaking humanity and reality in the prose that it felt as if the book I held in my hand was a lovely, small, wounded animal rather than a simple work of fiction. In the beginning, almost everything about the book had me entranced--I was under a spell...and, for the most part, that feeling of awe continued straight through to the end.

The book is a truly remarkable debut and Carolyn Wall is an impressive new novelist. Through her simple lyrical prose and authentic dialogue, the impoverished people of rural Appalachia come alive. There is exquisite magic in her straightforward, honest storytelling.

Other reviews on this site outline the book's plot and themes, so I will not go over that material again here. Instead, I want to explain why, after such an enthusiastic opening, I choose to give this book only a three-star and not a five-star rating.

The problem for me was the abrupt change-of-pace in the last few chapters. For most of the book, I had the feeling that I was reading a magnificent character study--a study of a woman, her family, and her town. I would have been totally satisfied if the book had been nothing more than that. It was such a beautiful experience to be in the author's capable hands, taking an intimate look at a marvelous, odd cast of real-life characters.

But shortly before the end, the book abruptly morphs into a fast-paced thriller. The book was like a chimera--ninety percent slow-paced literary character study and ten percent potboiler. I'm sure than many, if not most readers, will not have any problem with this sudden switch-of-pace and style, but for me...
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars True grit in the cold Kentucky mountains... July 26, 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This novel was difficult to read. Not because it wasn't good - it was very good -- but because of the subject matter. I was hungry, I was cold, tired, lonely and filled with rage and frustration - I felt every feeling and thought every thought along with Olivia. I savored the prose and often stopped to reread passages - something I don't often do with the typical books I tend to pick up these days. I was looking for reading pleasure and I got that in this book in one way, but in another I was so drawn into Olivia's world that I experienced it with her and that meant I didn't find it comfortable to read too much at one sitting. It is an unflinching look at poverty, racism, buried secrets, and family bonds at a time in history when everything was HARD.

You will like this book and you should buy it if you like gritty stories of hardscrabble existence eked out in primitive conditions by a determined, plucky woman who has nothing going for her but a strong back and a sense of purpose. The setting is the Kentucky mountains, depression era, dirt poor. Olivia Harker Cross lives with her crazy mother Ida and her grandson Will'm in a shack attached to a small grocery. She stocks her shelves and feeds her family by making quilts and by working very hard. Her life revolves around staying alive, taking care of her grandson, and protecting the silver wolves that were reintroduced to the area by her grandfather. She is a friend to the blacks in a time where lynchings aren't uncommon and segregation is fierce. Even though there is a story line that involves hunters going after the wolves, the book is really a character study.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fresh Voice And Captivatingly Original Protagonist August 3, 2009
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Olivia Harker Cross, the protagonist and narrator in Carolyn Wall's captivating "Sweeping Up Glass" is one of the novel's strongest selling points. It's been a good while since I have been so wrapped up in the complexities of a fictional character that I have to heartily recommend this terrific and surprising new book. Admirable, stubborn, heroic, and infuriating--Olivia's fresh, clear, and blunt voice drive Wall's deceptively simple story to unexpected depths.

Living a hard hand-to-mouth existence in rural Kentucky, Olivia supports a mother just this side of madness and a grandson abandoned by her daughter. When someone starts murdering wolves on her land, this catalyst leads Olivia to explore her family history and to unearth some bitter and terrifying truths about the place she calls home. The novel, both moving and exciting, is alive and haunting as it unfolds in Olivia's own words and as she starts to unravel the past and to understand the present--the reader is right there with her. I was fully committed to Olivia and her quest for answers.

Spanning decades and tracking four generations of a proud, but troubled, Kentucky family--this small and compulsively entertaining story is at once straightforward and multi-layered. Part family drama, part mystery, part social commentary, part romance, and part thriller--it's an amazing feat that Wall has accomplished in fitting so much content into such a small volume. And to do so with so much gusto and originality left me breathless. A nearly perfect little book marred by a bit of abruptness in the final pages, Wall's storytelling style has drawn comparisons to Harper Lee. A huge compliment in and of itself! Unlike Lee, though, and her masterpiece "To Kill A Mockingbird"--I just hope there's a lot more to come from Wall. KGHarris, 8/09.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The long howl of a wolf rolls over me like a toothache
The long howl of a wolf rolls over me like a toothache. With an opening line like that you wonder will it stay this good? It does.
Published 15 days ago by ler
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
page turner
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Never disappointed
A beautifully written story with many layers. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with characters. I was hooked from the beginning and was disappointed when it had to end.
Published 5 months ago by BGrover
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good read.
Our book club read. Very good read.
Published 7 months ago by Carol A. Hacker
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 for one of my new favorite books. I was positively attached to the characters by the end of the story, I never wanted to see them go. Read more
Published 7 months ago by cccbooks1234
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read.
It did not have the "can't put it down" quality for me, but drew me in and held my interest. Characters were well developed and the writing a pleasure to read.
Published 17 months ago by Ilene
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweeping Up Glass
It was AWESOME; I highly recommend this book! Great, colorful characters, and suspenseful plot! Just try it out; you won't be disappointed.
Published 20 months ago by Donna
4.0 out of 5 stars A suggestion that you shouldn't pass on
I don't normally step out of the realm of medieval war, sorcerers, dragons, vampires, etc., but this is one time I'm so glad I did. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Ninosca9
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book!
Carolynn Wall has told a story that keeps you turning the pages and not wanting to put this book down. It is a very rewarding read that grabs your heart and won't let go.
Published 22 months ago by Anita Hurst
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I did not want this book to be over and could not put it down! I have recommended this book to several book clubs and will continue to do so.
Published 23 months ago by Kimberly
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