Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: 11/2/13
Dented CansFormat: Kindle
Pages: 150
Source: Received from author for review

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.

Being a teen is hard enough. Being a teen in a dysfunctional family is even harder. Hannah Sampson is that teen. In this interesting look at a family in quiet chaos. Hannah, the narrator, is by all (her) account, normal. The rest of her family, with the exception of her hyper, yet apathetic brother Ryan, are not.

Hannah's dad collects cans of food. Dented Cans. Every can is a bargain to Hannah's dad; a treasure. Her stores them, loves them. He is obsessed with bargains, and watches every penny he and his family spend. Hannah's mom is less than chatty about her obsession, but is just as anxious. Her obsession is family photos, and putting them in album. But instead of making them a treasured part of the family, she hides the albums, refusing to let the family look through them. And then there's Ben, the youngest sibling who barely speaks but uses sound effects to communicate, doesn't interact much. In denial over Ben's issues, the parents refuse to let Ben be tested for any sort of disability. Hannah's parents are not bad people, and though they're strange, they're not bad parents, either.

So this, in a nutshell, is the Sampson family. Fed up with the dysfunction, Hannah is simply biding her time until she can escape to university, far away.

The family is pushed to their limits when they head on a trip to Disney World. I actually expected the trip to be a larger portion of the story, but most of it was the setup of the characters and their day-to-day lives.  Family trips are tricky at best, so when the Sampson family embarks on theirs, it's only a matter of time until they crack. I was surprised by the big family secret, and it actually made sense in regards to some of the issues Hannah's mom and dad have.

Dented Cans is one of those books in which it feels like not a lot happens. There is the big secret, but it's dealt with so calmly that it felt a bit anti-climatic. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that, it rang true for the characters. At the end, I feel like the family almost ended exactly where they began. All of their problems are not solved, but there is understanding. Dented Cans should be taken for what it is: a look at a troubled family

Favorite Quote:

  "But I didn't care anymore if my family was slightly nuts. Let them be. Soon enough I'd be out on my own anyway (don't look back). Besides, our town was full of families that looked normal when you saw them in church or at the bank, but I suspected that if you peered into their windows, what you'd see would be far from normal. Everyone was screwed up, it was just how good you were at faking it.  ~ebook, 32%

Purchase Dented Cans at:
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About the author:
Heather Walsh grew up in North Haven, CT, fantastically close to Pepe's pizza.

She received a B.A. in English at Mary Washington College, which has been renamed to, drum roll please... the University of Mary Washington. This was after a failed attempt to name it Washington & Monroe University, because there aren't enough schools honoring dead Virginian men already. Heather graduated Phi Betta Kappa and summa cum laude, which sounds kind of fancy but really means she took easy classes.
She taught high school English in Brooklyn for one year, where she loved the students but not the system. She then joined corporate America and worked there for too many years as an IT trainer, project manager, business analyst, and SQL dabbler (select * from Dented_Cans).

Her favorite writer is Alice Munro, her favorite movie is The Godfather Parts I & II (tied for first), and her favorite TV show is The Wire. She has lived in some pretty neat places, including Brooklyn (kind of before it was hipster-cool to do so), Manhattan, and San Francisco. The unfortunate result of living in these locations is that she has become an obnoxious foodie.
She currently lives in Brookline, MA with her husband, Mike DeLucia, and their two children.
Connect with Heather at:



  1. It sounds like there should of been a little more to the story, but it may be relatable to some people out there? *shrugs* I know I won't be reading this one, I am so not into books like this!

  2. This sounds interesting, but I'm not sure it is a book for me. Great review!

  3. I passed on this one because I just didn't have the time to read it. It doesn't seem like I was missing much. Too bad that there wasn't a bit more to it.

  4. I received this book as well and haven't found the time to read it but now that i've seen your review i think i will :)

  5. I'm kind of curious about this one. I know what you mean about sometimes not a lot happens, but often I really enjoy those stories. I hadn't heard of this before but I may pick it up one day in the future.

  6. This sounds like a fun book. I just noticed you are going to read My EX From Hell - I have that one to and I am hoping it is going to be as funny as her Sam Cruz book was.

  7. I also passed on this one because I couldn't fit it in. It sounds fun, but still a bit boring.

  8. I was asked to review this one. I'm kinda glad I turned it down. I seemed a little to middle grade to me. Not that I dont like middle grade, but I just didn't think it would be something I could get into.

    Boo to being anticlimatic. I'm all about something happening. anything!! lol

    Great review. <3


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