Sunday, April 7, 2013

Disney Deathmarch

"Unlike all these fools in my class,
I didn't expect high school to be this 
incredible, mind-blowing experience.
High school was like purgatory.
You just had to wait it out
until you got to the real deal."
--Heather Walsh, Dented Cans

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services, 150 pages
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2012
Source: Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Description

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

So initially upon being asked to review this I was very excited because, hello?! family trip to Disney World? Love it! Unfortunately this book just didn't get along with my Disney ideals. I am all about snarky, opinionated, and very observant characters but I didn't really get Hannah...or any of the characters. I felt very detached from them and could never really grasp the point of view they were coming from. Hannah was extremely pessimistic to the point of really irritating me. I can be extremely cynical myself but as much as that is a part of my personality, I have such a soft spot for all things Disney and happily ever after. Hannah rags on Disney's consumerism and lack of magic the entire trip. So personally because of my own interests, I was unable to identify with this character. I just really didn't understand where all her anger came from. 

She wasn't all bad though, she had very great points as a character. She is a fantastic advocate for her strange but completely endearing younger brother Ben. She was the only one who stood up for this boy who was babied by the rest of his family. That was another thing that didn't really add up to me. This boy was 8 years old and barely spoke. It was constant white elephant in the room. Not to mention the family's other odd habits. The father's obsession with buying dented cans, the mother's constant and secretive scrapbooking. The synopsis leads us to believe a huge family secret is about to be uncovered, yet we don't get this revelation until the very end...and it still doesn't really explain anything. Things just didn't add up to me.

Each character at times has their high points and I found myself taking each character's side at one point or another but overall they were all equally obstinate and stuck in their ways. I can appreciate the viewpoint of a family that isn't perfect, that has flaws, that is not cookie cutter and I like that. But these people could not see the good in front of them. The constant bickering abut the negative aspects of Disney World really broke my heart to be honest. While everything is overpriced and yes, I agree that the fact that Africa is not represented in EPCOT is a totally disgusting oversight, like the parents said, not everybody's families get to go to Disney World. A vacation like that is a blessing and needs to be recognized as such. 

The writing of this book was good, don't get me wrong. It just wasn't for me. I'm sure a lot of people will enjoy the sarcastic observations about life, family and all things Disney but unfortunately this book and I didn't see eye to eye.

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