SWEEPING UP GLASS, Carolyn D. Wall, Poisened Pen Press, 2008, $24.95 US/C, £15.95 UK, hb, 278pp, 978-1-59058-512-2
After reading Sweeping Up Glass, by debut author Carolyn D. Wall I could not move. This book is terrifyingly real and haunting of racial bias imagery of the past.
It is 1938, some say the coldest winter ever in Kentucky. Olivia Harker and her grandson Will’m discover that someone is killing silver faced wolves on their property. Olivia has an idea who is responsible, but doesn’t know why they are targeting them.
Olivia and Will'm live behind Harker’s Grocery, yet her ma’am Ida, lives in a tar paper shack out back. Olivia had her husband Saul settle her there many years ago unable to forgive her for the years of neglect and physical abuse while growing up. On the other hand she is very close to her pap, Tate Harker, a self made veterinarian.
One day with Olivia is driving with her father when they have a horrible accident. This becomes life altering for Olivia. After a long recovery she learns her pap is buried in an unmarked grave next to the outhouse, but she always yearns to move him someday.
During a time of shameless segregation, Olivia befriends Junk, Love Alice and other members of the black community. One night, Olivia stumbles upon a covert gathering of white men. Hidden from view, she listens to the conversations from community leaders who emote racial hatred and bigotry. The disappearance of young black men in the community has raised fear and an acute awareness of racial boundaries.
This significant historical mystery offers a twisted tale with a shocking secret, betrayal and mistrust with a bit of romance. Ms. Wall has a talent for shaping distinctively original southern characters with unique personality traits, some quirky, some hated, some loved, but all memorable. I guarantee they all will stand the test of time.