Author: Heather Walsh
Source: Author for Review
Publication Date: November 2, 2012
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 biggest overall problem with Dented Cans was that I just couldn't identify with the main character, Hannah. She worries about everything. She worries about college, she worries about the SAT's, she worries about her little brothers...she just worries TOO much.
She also really wants to get away from her hometown. She wants to leave so much, so quickly. She's SIXTEEN years old, and she's planning about which college she's going to. I simply don't understand her mindset at all. I can't imagine leaving my hometown-- in some weird way, this is where I belong. My heart is just rooted here, way out in the boondocks. So I don't get why she wants to leave so badly, because I've never been a city kind of girl.
Another issue that I had was the quirks. They're all that the book is about. About how weird and quirky Hannah's family is...but I don't get why. It didn't add to the story-- it just confused me. It appears to be such a big deal, but I don't understand.
Hannah doesn't appear to have any friends, and her interactions with her family are awful. I would have liked to have seen more character development in her family-- and more interaction. It was to the point that simply nothing any of those people could have done would have surprised me-- and I didn't like that. I just didn't know the characters well enough to predict their actions.
For instance, a huge piece of information was revealed near the end-- I assume that it's what the book was building up to. But it all just fell flat, because I honestly didn't care about the characters that much. And why all of the build-up? In the grand scheme of things, all that build up got us nowhere.
All in all, Dented Cans really wasn't for me-- but it might be for you!
Life handed it what it handed you, and then you were in control from there. ~ Pg. 142