Saturday, 22 June 2013

Dented Cans by Heather Walsh

Sponsored post: I received a digital copy of his book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to author Heather Walsh.
Dented Cans
Blurb (from Goodreads):
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.

Dented Cans by Heather Walsh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dented Cans(Source: I received a digital copy of his book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to author Heather Walsh.)
16-year-old Hannah’s priorities are: 1. Get good grades, 2. Buy a car, and 3. Get into a good university as far away from her nutty family as possible.

The eldest of 3, Hannah has to put up with a lot. Her Dad has hundreds of dented cans (some unlabelled) stored in the basement, her mother buys powdered milk because it’s so much cheaper (even if it tastes horrible), 14-year-old Ryan just moans and doesn’t keep his grades up, and 8-year-old Ben hardly ever talks, makes strange noises all the time (the motorcycle being a particular favourite), and will only eat chicken nuggets.

When her family announces that they will be vacationing at Disney World again this year, both Hannah and Ryan try to change their minds, but unfortunately find themselves going to Disney World anyway.
How will Dad continue his penny-pinching ways while they are on holiday though? And what family secret is about to be revealed?

This was an interesting insight into the Sampson family’s life, and reminded me a lot of family vacations that we took when I was younger, it did lack a little for a solid plotline though.

Hannah was a likeable and witty protagonist. Her observations about her family, and other people were spot-on and often quite funny, and I liked how she took the time to try and draw her youngest brother out of his shell a little, while everyone else was happy to just baby him. She was desperate to get away from her family though strangely, and was already looking at colleges, even though she was only 16.

The storyline was okay, and I totally got why Hannah and Ryan didn’t want to go to Disney world again, especially considering that they were 16 and 14. I did think that going to Disney World was a little strange for this penny-picking, dented can buying, thrifty family though. I would have expected them to go camping, or not go on holiday at all for that matter, so going to Disney World seemed a little out of character.
This book was literally like stepping into someone else’s family for a while, and seeing what the dynamics of a different family are like. The arguments of where they were going, and what they were doing each day whilst on holiday reminded me very much of what family holidays were like for me as a teenager, which was a bit of a blast from the past!
That’s what this story was like though – an insight into family life, and therefore there wasn’t really all that much of a plot, it was more like 14 days in the life of the Sampson family, than an actual story with a beginning, middle and end.
The family secret that was revealed at the end came completely out of the blue, and I didn’t really see why it suddenly came out, or what significance it really held. I wasn’t really sure what reaction the parents were expecting from the kids at all, so it was a little odd, and the revelation didn’t really stir any feelings from me either.

Overall; a YA story about family, with a witty protagonist, but could maybe have benefitted from a bit more of a solid storyline.
6.5 out of 10.

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