January 19, 2013

Review: Dented Cans by Heather Walsh

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 Thoughts:

Dented Cans was a quick and easy read but I wanted more to happen. The blurb refers to a big family secret that gets revealed during a miserable vacation to Disney World but that doesn't happen until the end of the book. The rest of the story just kind of breezed by with nothing to engage me. I think just about everyone I know can claim a dysfunctional family but the Sampsons really do have family drama and I think more could have been done earlier in the book to show why Hannah can't wait to get out of her small town.

Also there were little hints of more drama that never got fleshed out. I was left wondering about why her parents were so secretive about where they met. Why was Aunt Lydia staring at Ben so sadly. What really happened to cousin Eddie and where is he now? Why doesn't her Mom let anyone see the scrapbooks? Was something really wrong with Ben or are the sounds his way of coping? Overall this was a pretty good read but I feel it could have been so much more. 

My Recommendation:

I recommend this one for anyone who loves dysfunctional family drama.