At nine years old, Monica Holloway develops a fascination with the local funeral home. Small wonder, with a father who drives his Ford pick up 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. In between her father's bouts of violence and abuse, Monica becomes fast friends with Julie Kilner, whose father is the town mortician. She and Julie preferred the casket showroom to the parks and grassy backyards in her hometown of Elk Grove, Ohio, where they would take turns lying in their favourite coffins. In time, Monica and Julie get a job driving the company hearse to pick up bodies from 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...
Monica Holloway was brutally honest in telling her recollections of growing up, but she was also fair. Her story was told with a matter of factness that was refreshing and often funny. Holloway never pointed a finger at any of her family, nor did she adopt a "you ruined by life" type attitude. Her changing perceptions of her family member's were wonderfully portrayed, and I found my own opinions of her parents, for example, changing over the course of the book.
This memoir was beautifully written and I would recommend it to fiction and non-fiction readers alike, especially those who enjoyed The Glass Castle
A really tough book to read and yet not. It was written so skillfully that I had to keep with it. Good luck and blessings in your life, Monica. You surely deserve the best.
This book was recommended to me by a friend, who thought that it was o.kay. I found that the book is more than o.kay, it is awesome! It wasn't what I thought it was going to be, a memoir of crazy high school days made interesting by driving a hearse, it went much deeper than that.
In this memorable memoir Monica tells her story, from childhood into adulthood, in a candid and humorous way, but you also found all of the horrors and felt her pain in her blunt sentences and matter of fact writing. It is not a sugar coated tail of a fairy tale childhood, but a twisted ride through life, where many times she felt dead, worthless, and wanted desperately to dull the pain... she just wanted someone to notice her and care for her in her childhood, and after years of neglect, she found it in many different ways growing up in lonely house, sleeping with a schizo boyfriend who holds a rifle to her head, a grandma who killed her own cat by locking it in the garage with the car running, picking up dead bodies at the airport, cruising down Main street in the hearse, a father who lines the kids up to watch the home videos, which are mixed with images of dying animals and disasters... trying out coffins in the town morturary (her best friend Julie's dad owns the town mortuary)...and ironically enough, a hearse is always in the background, like her ride through life. Until she confronts the abuse and neglect, says good bye to the lost childhood in Ohio, and moves on into her adult life and finds out what love is.
It is amazing she made it through this crazy and twisted childhood and her memoir shows how humor, resiliancy, and determination can make you stronger. Just like the author's picture on the back of the book; shoulders back, head up, smiling, and strong looking. She is a survivor.
One of the reasons I like memoirs is because it’s the truth as the writer knows it. Is it what really happened? I don’t know. What I do know is it’s what Ms. Holloway believes. She was very inspiring to me from the beginning. I’m amazed at how a person has the strength to overcome something as debilitating as abuse, be it mental, physical or sexual. I don’t know how they get up each and every day and deal with it. How they resist the urge to crawl up in a little ball, buried under the cover and actually get out of bed and face whatever comes to them that day. And that’s exactly what she does. She finds ways to escape, to cope. The most awe-inspiring thing about her is that in spite of how insignificant her parents make her feel, she doesn’t believe it. She may have her doubts, but she’s a fighter.
There are many good quotes in the memoir. Here are some of my favorites:
“The outside now matched the inside – damaged beyond all repair.” Without getting too much into my past, this line affected me the most. It’s one thing to have physical signs of abuse, but it’s quite another to carry it all on the inside where no one knows about it but you and your abuser. I think she explains it best with the following quote:
“I wish there had been obvious signs of destruction on all of us kids: bruises or burn marks, something that indicated how violent our house was, but words and neglect don’t leave visible marks. And that confuses even the person who knows better.”
She had her struggles too, as you can see from this brutally honest quote:
“My whole life, I wanted to be dead, but I didn’t actually do anything about it. I guess I didn’t want to be dead: I wanted relief. I wanted to be happy and peaceful.”
Finally, I think she sums it up nicely with this:
“I would work on trying to forgive myself, and I would ask others for forgiveness too.”
I recommend this book to anyone as a study of resiliency. It doesn’t matter if you were personally touched by abuse in your past. Everyone can learn a little something from this, even if it’s just how to forgive and find your peace.
Like many people who tell their story, Monica must have told hers as part of a therapy breakthrough. It's gritty and still a bit raw, but we certainly can't shut her out. It's a rather quick read so give her a few hours of your attention and you just might come away thinking differently about the similarities between life and death.
This book is, at its heart, about the horrors of childhood with an abusive father and emotionally absent mother. The tales of growing up are difficult to read and the fact that this is a memoir make the words, actions and denial even more bone-crushing. The aftermath of living in this environment proves to be a difficult one to rise above, only two siblings facing the issues head-on to try to move past the hurt and betrayal.
This is a raw, painful and real story that will make you want to protect the children and beat the hell out of the adults.
When she grew up she went to acting school. She made a lot of mistakes there. She fell in love with a teacher. She dated like 4 different boys. She almost got married but she didn't. Her sister almost killed herself. She goes to an asylum for a while. Her sister confesses a lot of stuff about her dad. Her dad liked to film storms also. Monica ends up getting married eventually. She loses all contact with her other sister and her brother. The whole family was a drug addict. Her brother Jamie and her sister wasted their lives on drugs and parties. Over all I didn't really like the book.
What I did get was a story of a young girl-turned-woman's struggle of growing up with an abusive father, a turn-a-blind-eye mother, and a story of idolization of the main character's dream family... that of the Kilners, who owned the local mortuary.
This book puts the reader at the heart of a broken home and face to face with the emotional distress that goes with such. If you want a happy, uplifting read look elsewhere - otherwise, this is a worthwhile read.