Friday, October 18, 2013
G109 E-Reading Book Review of Dented Cans by Heather Walsh
Author: Heather Walsh
Type of book: Disney World, 2000s? family relationships, getting away, small town, intelligence, secrets
Year it was published: 2012
A family secret is revealed during an ill-fated—yet hilarious—trip to Disney World.
Sixteen-year-old Hannah Sampson knows her family is not what you would call normal. Her father compulsively buys dented cans and has a particular fondness for cans without labels, which are extremely discounted because their contents are a mystery. Her mother takes countless pictures of her family and then glues them down into the pages of her scrapbooks, but does not allow anyone to look at them. Ryan, Hannah’s mischievous fourteen-year-old brother, is headed straight for the remedial track at the local community college, if he’s lucky. Ben, her eight-year-old brother, is a walking sound effects machine, who prefers to communicate with noises rather than words. While Hannah is focused on escaping her working-class Connecticut suburb, she also finds herself being tugged back home as she worries about her brother Ben.
Hannah’s parents inflict one last family vacation on the Sampson children, a trip that goes comically wrong almost from the get-go. Hannah is forced to confront her family’s past in Disney World, of all places, when an emotional argument prompts her parents to disclose a secret they have been keeping from the children for sixteen years. Ultimately, she must decide whether to leave her hometown and not look back, or to focus on helping her family.
The characters seemed to be on the extreme side and not much roundness is shown; but still somehow they grew on me. Hannah is obsessed with getting away from her family and home and is a perfectionist in everything she does; her father is obsessed with finances and collecting cans as well as germs and is a clean freak while her mother constantly complains about the headaches and doesn't want to remember the past. Her younger brother Ryan is mischievous and has pins and needles everywhere (maybe ADD?) while her brother Ben isn't good with communication and needs to be protected from real life. (Autism perhaps?) There are few other characters such as relatives and friends, but they don't really play a huge role in the book.
Everything has a reason
Its written in first person narrative completely from Hannah's point of view. I felt that the book wasn't really complete and I would have liked to know more about the family she comes from. The reason is a little too out of the blue and doesn't feel properly answered. Hannah is obsessed with studying and getting away from her town of North Prospect (No. Prospect, she says) and somehow it was made believable. I also would assume that as teenagers no one is really appreciative of their family members and where they come from.
twitter username HWalshWriter
member since November 2012
Heather Walsh grew up in North Haven, CT, fantastically close to Pepe's pizza.
She received a B.A. in English at Mary Washington College, which has been renamed to, drum roll please... the University of Mary Washington. This was after a failed attempt to name it Washington & Monroe University, because there aren't enough schools honoring dead Virginian men already. Heather graduated Phi Betta Kappa and summa cum laude, which sounds kind of fancy but really means she took easy classes.
She taught high school English in Brooklyn for one year, where she loved the students but not the system. She then joined corporate America and worked there for too many years as an IT trainer, project manager, business analyst, and SQL dabbler (select * from Dented_Cans).
Her favorite writer is Alice Munro, her favorite movie is The Godfather Parts I & II (tied for first), and her favorite TV show is The Wire. She has lived in some pretty neat places, including Brooklyn (kind of before it was hipster-cool to do so), Manhattan, and San Francisco. The unfortunate result of living in these locations is that she has become an obnoxious foodie.
She currently lives in Brookline, MA with her husband, Mike DeLucia, and their two children.
Wow, I couldn't help but laugh at the dysfunctional family and their travel to Orlando Florida, to Disney World in particular. I am a little jealous because I traveled there with my family back in 1997, and because my folks thought we had to pay for the attractions inside, besides watching a 3-D movie we just walked around, at least in Epcot. In Disney-world, however, we went on a lot of rides and watched parades along with fireworks. In an odd way, I found the family interactions very funny and laughed whenever Hannah and her family got into multiple arguments. I would have liked to know more about this quirky family, and I am curious if this takes place in the same town that The Drake Equation does.
Quick notes: I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read and review the book.
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)