Musings about music, writing, Portland, my new house, my travels, my family, politics, whatever.....

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ode to Monica Holloway

This post is long overdue. My friend Monica has written an amazing memoir, Driving With Dead People. She writes about her difficult childhood, the colorful characters in it, and ultimately the abuse that she and her sister survived. Sounds like a downer maybe, but it's not, or at least it wasn't for me. First of all, Monica is funny. Hilarious in person, and equally compelling on paper. If you know me, you know that not a lot of things make me laugh out loud while I'm reading. Off the top of my head, Monica can do it, and Jonah instant messaging me can do it. Anyway, her writing is funny, and it is brave. While I was reading this book, and for days after I finished it, I carried it around with me everywhere, in a way I have with only a few books before. I wanted to keep it with me, the story, the courage, Monica...

When I was in in New York in early April, I had dinner with Monica one night. She was there to sign books at Barnes and Noble and meet with important publishing people. That time with her was absolutely one of the highlights of my trip east. That Monica, during this time of total insanity for her, is interested in my writing and believes in what I want to do with it, means the world to me. It is not an exaggeration to say that she is one of the most inspiring people I know, and one of the very sweetest and funniest. She makes everything seem possible. I trust her completely and feel so blessed to call her my friend.

Monica's book was published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, and her book hit the shelves on March 6th. Sales have been great, and she was scheduled to be on NPR's Diane Rehm show this month. Then her mother and one of her sisters called in to say it was all a lie, and suddenly the show had "scheduling conflicts" and had canceled Monica. They said it was about scheduling, but then they said they had qualms about airing a family's "dirty laundry". They had loved the book and been excited to discuss it on the show, but that went out the window. It seems to me that perpetrators and enablers of abuse are pretty likely going to deny things when they are made public (even when names are not used), so it's hard for me to believe that this alone would be any reason to question Monica's truth. It's pretty disappointing to me that NPR would shy away from dealing with the hard but important issue of child abuse. I like to think of NPR as the one media source I can count on (well, aside from some much smaller ones), at least most of the time.

I hope the Diane Rehm show will do well by Monica in the end, and I hope that the literary community (that's readers and writers both) will support Monica in writing the truth.


1. Read Monica's book (and if you can, buy a few copies for your friends). It's a great read, hard to put down (I lost a lot of sleep reading it). She inspires me in so many ways.

2. Contact the Diane Rehm show and tell them to to reschedule Monica.

3. Read these other blog posts about this that shed more light on the situation: Jennifer , Kim, Jerri


  • At May 21, 2007 at 8:14 PM, Blogger Monica said…

    Jess, You made me come out of vacation mode (which I'm not very good at to begin with) to read your amazing blog. Thank you for the incredible support, the shout-out for the book and for just being the strong, lovely woman you are.

    I love you.

  • At May 22, 2007 at 6:09 PM, Blogger Julie Christine said…

    After a number of people in our writer's circle recommending this book, I just finished reading it myself and couldn't put the book down. I was really touched by the story and moved by Monica's courage to face the issues of her past in the way she did. She has my praise, admiration and support!

  • At May 28, 2007 at 10:30 AM, Blogger Amber said…

    You know what? I will do! I am going to buy a copy for myself, and also my friend Mollie. And I will also do the other things, too. Stories like this need to be told. Hers is FAR from the only one, and people-- society-- needs to understand that it happens and sweeping it under the rug is not okay. And when someone tells their truth with laughter...well. Lets just say I can respect that. ;)

    PS: I left you a comment to your comment. ;) hehe


  • At December 2, 2008 at 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I just read Driving With Dead People for my semester project (I am in high school), and I too lost a ton of sleep because I could not put it down. It took a lot of courage to be able to write about everything that happened, and I will be forever grateful that she did. Monica, your book made me realize that I need to accept the fact that I was abused as a child, and i am now getting help. Thanks.


  • At May 1, 2009 at 5:09 PM, Anonymous Sharon J said…

    I have never written to an author before but after reading Driving In Cars With Dead People I feel compelled to do so. The story has stayed with me as too few books do. Laundry did not get done, dinner did not get made, and the phone went unanswered until i finished it. Then, I read it again! It's a good thing I'm a fast reader. I suppose many families are held together by scar tissue and rubber bands, but in todays world we make the family we can. I sent it to both my sisters as it says so much that I can't. THANK YOU Ms. Holloway, most deeply.

  • At May 20, 2009 at 7:11 PM, Anonymous Rich Hill said…

    I've been dying to find a way to get in touch with you! Enjoyed reading the book so much! I'm hoping maybe this note will get to you! Email me when you have a chance!
    Rich Hill
    Jess, maybe you could email Monica and pass this along!

  • At June 15, 2009 at 3:18 PM, Blogger albert said…

    Hello fellow Portlander!

    I want to express my apreciation. Monica Holloway's book brings up feelings, lots of them.

    My journey began a little over two years ago, It's gives me hope that a 47 year old man can be happy.


    Albert .

  • At July 6, 2010 at 5:29 PM, Anonymous Maddy said…

    I've just started reading Cowboy and Willis her next book so I was interested to hear your take on her previous one - looks like another trip to Amazon.


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