Friday, July 29, 2011

The Cookie Dumpster / Shana Hammaker

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Memoir

Approximate word count: 8,000 words

Kindle US:
YES UK: YES Nook: NO Smashwords: NO Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords store


Shana Hammaker is the author of the Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011 series, where a different short thriller is released each month. We have reviewed the first three of these.
Follow Hammaker on Twitter.


At seventeen, Shana Hammaker was a street kid named Denise.

During the time she spent homeless, living on the streets of Santa Cruz, California, Denise experienced a rough and wild life. Longing for the comfort of home, she found it, in the dumpster at Pacific Cookie Company.


There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith

Although an overused quote, to the point of becoming clichéd, anyone who has tried writing of any kind also recognizes its truth. It applies to almost any kind of writing. Red Smith was a sportswriter, which doesn’t seem that personal, yet all writing, even something as easy as a review, can still feel this way. It is one reason authors sometimes react emotionally when someone doesn’t like what they’ve written.

In The Cookie Dumpster, it feels like Shana Hammaker sat down at her new-fangled typewriter and opened an artery instead. She gives us a glimpse into the people and culture of the homeless, a situation most of us can barely imagine. Hammaker’s writing voice or tone seemed different from her fiction, somehow more personal. Maybe this is something I imagined, or possibly that she is telling her own story rather than acting as a go-between for her characters made the voice more authentic. In many ways, this is a story of contradictions, of highs and lows. It is a story of freedom from many of society’s norms and of slavery to the requirements of survival. Ultimately, it is a story of overcoming obstacles.

If The Cookie Dumpster has any faults, it is that I wanted more. The period covered starts and ends at logical and natural points for the story Hammaker wanted to tell. But I can’t help thinking there is a prequel and possibly a sequel with much different, although just as compelling, stories to tell.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Rating: ***** Five stars


Rinn Ziegler said...

I read this story and was completely blown away.

I agree that the tone is different from her fiction, but I think it is appropriate. One's voice should be different for a memoir than it is for a work of fiction. A memoir of this type demands a writer's true voice. In essence, it should be akin to listening to a storyteller recall a memorable part of their life. Shana does this brilliantly.

Well-done on the review and well-done Shana!

BooksAndPals said...

I agree, Rinn. The different tone is not only appropriate, but required.

Patti said...

Hey Al... I just bought this book based on your review. Plus I love Santa Cruz AND the Pacific Cookie Company!

BooksAndPals said...

Hey Starzz. Good to see you here. It is very good and I'm sure you won't be disappointed. I saw a tweet last night from a reader who bought it yesterday based on the review and was subsequently late for a party because she wanted to finish reading it first. I gifted a copy to my daughter about half way through it. I don't do that very often, but thought this was one she should read and might not buy on her own.