Sunday 23 June 2013

Book Review - Dented Cans

Title: Dented Cans
Author: Heather Walsh
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Release Date: 10 Nov 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1480268975
ASIN: B00A12XW52

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.

My Review
I received this novel for review quite a while ago and added it to my long list. Only just got to it. It's very short at just 95 pages and so a quick read.
Hannah wants to leave her small town and go to a good university, if she can afford it. Her parents are quite tight with money, her dad's hobby is to buy dented cans from the supermarket as they get marked down and he particularly likes ones that have lost their labels. He likes the mystery.
But not everything is happy in the family, her brother Ryan is barely scraping good grades at school, her youngest brother Ben tends to communicate mainly through noises and her mum keeps getting headaches. Her parents never seem to want to talk about anything serious and Hannah wants more from life and for her family.
I liked the basic set up of the book, the family come to life and I could picture them in their cluttered yet organised house, all of them living together but not really communicating. 
Hannah is a great character when she is with her brothers, especially Ben, she tries hard to get him to come out of his shell and the moments between them are touching, but when she's on her own I found her a bit whiney and quite ungrateful. Yes the things her parents do are frustrating and would irritate me too, but it's not like she does much to try and change the situation. 
Then the family go on holiday to Disneyworld. This in itself seems out of character as they are supposed to be very careful with money, quite restrictive with spending, so why would they suddenly pay that much for a holiday none of them really wanted to go on. And that annoyed me too, I was 23 when I first went to Disneyland in Paris, it was my first and so far only holiday, and I had the time of my life. I would love to go to Disneyworld in America, it's my dream, I just can't afford it. So maybe these characters had a lot of 'issues' and 'things they would rather to do', but they were so ungrateful and really rather rude about the whole trip. Everything was boring and pointless and childish. I wanted to shake them all and tell them to snap out of it and enjoy what they've got. I would do anything to go there. The ungratefulness frustrated me, I wanted to bang their heads together.
The 'family secret' wasn't anything like what I was expecting. I expected the mum to have some sort of illness that caused all these headaches, but they weren't really explained.  The actual revelation was totally out of the blue.
For a short story/novel it was quite a good read but I didn't really connect with any of the characters, apart from Ben, he was a sweetheart and I could almost sympathise with Ryan.
Just not really my sort of read.

My Rating

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