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Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir

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In this powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile her present life—in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison. As a child, Kambri Crews wished that she’d been born deaf so she, too, could fully belong to the tight-knit D In this powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile her present life—in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison. As a child, Kambri Crews wished that she’d been born deaf so she, too, could fully belong to the tight-knit Deaf community that embraced her parents. Her beautiful mother was a saint who would swiftly correct anyone’s notion that deaf equaled dumb. Her handsome father, on the other hand, was more likely to be found hanging out with the sinners. Strong, gregarious, and hardworking, he managed to turn a wild plot of land into a family homestead complete with running water and electricity. To Kambri, he was Daniel Boone, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, and Elvis all rolled into one. But if Kambri’s dad was Superman, then the hearing world was his kryptonite. The isolation that accompanied his deafness unlocked a fierce temper—a rage that a teenage Kambri witnessed when he attacked her mother, and that culminated fourteen years later in his conviction for another violent crime.  With a smart mix of brutal honesty and blunt humor, Kambri Crews explores her complicated bond with her father—which begins with adoration, moves to fear, and finally arrives at understanding—as she tries to forge a new connection between them while he lives behind bars. Burn Down the Ground is a brilliant portrait of living in two worlds—one hearing, the other deaf; one under the laid-back Texas sun, the other within the energetic pulse of New York City; one mired in violence, the other rife with possibility—and heralds the arrival of a captivating new voice.


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In this powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile her present life—in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison. As a child, Kambri Crews wished that she’d been born deaf so she, too, could fully belong to the tight-knit D In this powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile her present life—in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison. As a child, Kambri Crews wished that she’d been born deaf so she, too, could fully belong to the tight-knit Deaf community that embraced her parents. Her beautiful mother was a saint who would swiftly correct anyone’s notion that deaf equaled dumb. Her handsome father, on the other hand, was more likely to be found hanging out with the sinners. Strong, gregarious, and hardworking, he managed to turn a wild plot of land into a family homestead complete with running water and electricity. To Kambri, he was Daniel Boone, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, and Elvis all rolled into one. But if Kambri’s dad was Superman, then the hearing world was his kryptonite. The isolation that accompanied his deafness unlocked a fierce temper—a rage that a teenage Kambri witnessed when he attacked her mother, and that culminated fourteen years later in his conviction for another violent crime.  With a smart mix of brutal honesty and blunt humor, Kambri Crews explores her complicated bond with her father—which begins with adoration, moves to fear, and finally arrives at understanding—as she tries to forge a new connection between them while he lives behind bars. Burn Down the Ground is a brilliant portrait of living in two worlds—one hearing, the other deaf; one under the laid-back Texas sun, the other within the energetic pulse of New York City; one mired in violence, the other rife with possibility—and heralds the arrival of a captivating new voice.

30 review for Burn Down the Ground: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Christian Finnegan

    “Burn Down the Ground” is more than readable. It’s put-your-phone-on-airplane-mode, call-in-sick-for-work, ignore-your-spouse-and-family readable. No, you may not have grown up isolated in the woods. No, you may not have been immersed in the Deaf community. And no, your formative years may not have been marked by intense and random bursts of violence. But in these pages, you will recognize yourself—the tragic comedy of youth, and the terrifying realization that maybe your heroes aren’t so heroic “Burn Down the Ground” is more than readable. It’s put-your-phone-on-airplane-mode, call-in-sick-for-work, ignore-your-spouse-and-family readable. No, you may not have grown up isolated in the woods. No, you may not have been immersed in the Deaf community. And no, your formative years may not have been marked by intense and random bursts of violence. But in these pages, you will recognize yourself—the tragic comedy of youth, and the terrifying realization that maybe your heroes aren’t so heroic after all. Kambri Crews is more than just someone who can tell an amazing story–she is an amazing story.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Bazzett

    I love memoirs, and Kambri Crews' BURN DOWN THE GROUND could very well turn out to be one of the best of 2012 - and it's her first book too. If Crews is like many women, she probably doesn't particularly like being reminded of her age, but I'm gonna say it anyway, because she's only forty, which seems kinda young to be writing your memoirs. But the fact is she had a story worth telling - that she NEEDED to tell - and she does a fine job of it. BURN DOWN THE GROUND is a magical mix of the ordinary I love memoirs, and Kambri Crews' BURN DOWN THE GROUND could very well turn out to be one of the best of 2012 - and it's her first book too. If Crews is like many women, she probably doesn't particularly like being reminded of her age, but I'm gonna say it anyway, because she's only forty, which seems kinda young to be writing your memoirs. But the fact is she had a story worth telling - that she NEEDED to tell - and she does a fine job of it. BURN DOWN THE GROUND is a magical mix of the ordinary and horrific, the story of a girl born to deaf parents. Kambri Crews was a "CODA" (child of deaf adults) in the parlance of the Deaf Community. She goes on to explain - "The Deaf have their own language, arts, churches, and universities. Because of this, they are strongly bonded through shared history and life experiences, and view themselves as a distinct society." The trouble is, deaf people also have to make a living, which is usually found in the world of the Hearing Community. And this does not always go smoothly. Crews' father, Ted Crews, was a particularly tragic case of this, a man who could never quite make that transition for long, although he was a man of many talents and skills in the world of carpentry and most areas of general contracting. Crews cannot really say for sure why her father had so many problems with authority and normal work routines. She did learn something of his childhood as a boarding student at an Oklahoma school for the deaf from the age of seven. Too young to understand, he thought his father had abandoned him there and perhaps never quite got over that. She mentions too that her father's deafness made him feel insecure and paranoid, feelings which often escalated into jealousy, anger and violence, usually directed at her mother. As a child Kambri was unaware of this, and worshiped her handsome talented dad, who, with only his family's help, cleared a piece of scrub ground in the Texas woods and made them a home. This small unofficial settlement northeast of Houston in Montgomery County was called Boars Head. I thought of LORD OF THE FLIES, and Kambri, her brother and friends did indeed live a kind of dark and unsupervised wild-child existence there. Although the Crews family lived from paycheck to paycheck, barely keeping ahead of the bill collectors and repo men, Kambri herself was an all-A student who loved sports, learning and reading until she hit puberty and briefly "fell in with a bad crowd," as we used to say. A move back to the city gives her a chance to start fresh in high school and she embraces this second chance, once again becoming an honor student and working full-time besides. During these years she learns more about the dark side of her parents' marriage, and even finally witnesses her drunken father's rage and his brutal battering of her mother. She finds a way out in a quick marriage to a local sailor and a move to Ohio. Although the marriage doesn't last, Kambri's determination to succeed does. She puts herself through college and works her way up into management in the banking industry, but isn't satisfied, so moves to New York and starts over again. The Crews family has, in the meantime, disintegrated. Her parents have divorced and her brother, a reformed drug addict, has gone his own way. And perhaps I should point out that Kambri herself is no saint. She's had her own detours and lapses with drugs, alcohol and casual sex along the way. But always she keeps on trying to figure out her father. In fact her narrative is framed by a visit she is making to her father - the first in nine years - in Huntsville prison, where he is serving twenty years for assault and attempted murder. She can't cut him loose. BURN DOWN THE GROUND is a beautifully written memoir. It offers a window into the world of the Deaf, but more particularly it tells the story of how one young woman managed to rise above her difficult beginnings in a troubled hardscrabble Texas family. But she won't forget them - refuses to. Family is family, and Kambri Crews' story is eloquent testament to that important fact. I talk too much, I know. Bottom line: this is one helluva good read! - Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER

  3. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    It was an okay read. I don't know why it just didn't grab me and I confess that I skimmed some parts. The thing that I thought stood out the most was how the author explained many things about the deaf culture that are not even thought of by people that can hear. I will have to give Kambri Crews a great deal of credit for writing from compassion and honesty. It's on the same order as Jeanette Walls The Glass Castle. The two authors shared very similar backgrounds.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melissa (ladybug)

    I won this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. I received an ARC book and I am not required to give a good review. Warning: This book contains abuse of all kinds. Drug abuse, Domestic abuse, Emotional abuse, Alcohol abuse and language are all contained in this book. Goodreads tells us that "In this powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile her present life—in which her fathe I won this book through the Goodreads giveaway program. I received an ARC book and I am not required to give a good review. Warning: This book contains abuse of all kinds. Drug abuse, Domestic abuse, Emotional abuse, Alcohol abuse and language are all contained in this book. Goodreads tells us that "In this powerful, affecting, and unflinching memoir, a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile her present life—in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison." I was engrossed throughout the book and found it hard to put down to even work. I have friends who are CODA and I have been involved in working with the Deaf and their community. I knew, before reading the book, about the Deaf community, ASL language syntax and ways of doing things. I know how and why it is hard to get concepts of such "abstract" ideas (such as Jesus and G-d) across to the Deaf. All of these caused me to look forward to reading this book and made the book enjoyable to me. I am divided on how to rate this book. I gave it 4 stars as a compromise between 3 and 5. The book is worth 5 stars for the unflinching view of Ms. Crews life and how she handled it with aplomb. What I look for in a book is the ability to take me out of mine and plop me down to experience the authors' world and experiences. Ms. Crews does this and more. I could feel her fears and her joys. I could see what made her Mother and Father into the people they were and the people they became. When reading, it made the book A Child Called "It" come to mind. Not because of the themes of violence and abuse, but because both Dave Pelzer and Kambri Crews came through hard and dangerous childhoods to become somewhat balanced and admirable people. They didn't let their childhood destroy their lives. The 3 stars was for it's language and for the author's "seeming" to "still" accept marijuana and alcohol use as "normal" to life. I don't know if the author has stopped using marijuana (and that is illegal and damaging) no matter her "apparent" ability to not have it effect her life (unlike her brother). In fact, I kept getting the feeling the author was saying she was better than everyone else around her because of her "ability" to not allow alcohol and drugs to drag her down.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Ziegler

    The only thing I hated about this book was having to put it down and go to sleep! When the author told stories about her Dad when she was young, my eyes got misty remembering doing the same things with my Dad when I was young. Back in the day when you could ride in the bed of a pickup truck and Dad would let me drive the straight back road home. Trying to please him by wanting to help him do things, only to be disappointed that the position was taken by my older brother. Wheelbarrow rides around The only thing I hated about this book was having to put it down and go to sleep! When the author told stories about her Dad when she was young, my eyes got misty remembering doing the same things with my Dad when I was young. Back in the day when you could ride in the bed of a pickup truck and Dad would let me drive the straight back road home. Trying to please him by wanting to help him do things, only to be disappointed that the position was taken by my older brother. Wheelbarrow rides around the yard and fighting off daddy longlegs during camping trips (man those suckers can get really big). There were times that my brother hurt me and my mother did not listen. I had bad hair, bad skin, braces, thick glasses and clothes from K-mart when I entered junior high. Fortunately, God blessed me with a big rack, so that took the boy's eyes away from my face. I changed and grew with every move to a new home. My parents only had horrible screaming fights but my brother's destructive behavior caused physical fights with my Dad. Anyone who reads this book will find a part of themselves in it. This author still has a long life to live but has endured so much more than someone like me. My life broke me, but Kambri got stronger. Whether she put up a wall to keep the pain out, put all her energy into school and work, or ran away to different states, I cannot imagine how I would cope if my Dad was in prison for attempted murder. Her Dad was the reason her family broke up and went their separate ways, but his imprisonment has brought them back together in one form or another. I do not think I could sit across from my Dad in a prison visiting room while he denied facts and only asked for money. Kambri has forgiven her Dad and has accepted who he is. "It can't be pretty without being ugly first." The Crews family has burned down the ground, best wishes for growing new, bright and healthy. Until next time, take life one page at a time!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Bang

    I received this book as a "First Reads" and as soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. Crews's narrative is straightforward, honest, and familiar. And familiar in a good sense; sort of like a new friend or neighbor you make and have the opportunity to get to know really well. The book as a whole was fascinating and inspirational to me because I am not educated enough about the Deaf community. Crews's experiences, especially as a daughter and sister to her parents and brother, are sometimes t I received this book as a "First Reads" and as soon as I started reading it, I was hooked. Crews's narrative is straightforward, honest, and familiar. And familiar in a good sense; sort of like a new friend or neighbor you make and have the opportunity to get to know really well. The book as a whole was fascinating and inspirational to me because I am not educated enough about the Deaf community. Crews's experiences, especially as a daughter and sister to her parents and brother, are sometimes too surreal to believe at times (probably because I have had such different family and environment dynamics throughout my short lifetime) and sometimes, her experiences are very relatable. To sum it up, Crews's story is poignant yet full of hope. I'm not entirely sure why I can't give it five stars, but it could be because I have been moved by other non-fiction pieces beforehand and I can't help but compare this reading experience to other reading experiences I've had. So don't mind my four-star rating! This book definitely left a lasting impression on me, so I recommend it to all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tamara McFarland

    I remember Kambri as a feisty elementary school kid-- so skinny you could blow her away with a soft wind-- I had no idea what her homelife was like except that her parents were deaf. My son remembers watching her and her brother communicating from across the lunch room in high school-- and knowing when they were arguing because of the increased frenetic movements. It looks like Kambri came out better than anyone could have hoped-- but like her mom's t-shirt said, "deaf & smart!" Montgomery was it I remember Kambri as a feisty elementary school kid-- so skinny you could blow her away with a soft wind-- I had no idea what her homelife was like except that her parents were deaf. My son remembers watching her and her brother communicating from across the lunch room in high school-- and knowing when they were arguing because of the increased frenetic movements. It looks like Kambri came out better than anyone could have hoped-- but like her mom's t-shirt said, "deaf & smart!" Montgomery was its own little country-- but I always thought its strength back then was that all the kids went to the same schools-- one elementary, one intermediate, one jr. high, one high school-- it just felt more democratic but I bet it was really hard ont he poor kids-- seeing what the Walden and April Sound kids had... I enjoyed the book-- especially the parts about Montgomery 30 years ago-- I think the book could have used a better editor but it's a well told story for the most part.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Glaesmann

    I really enjoyed Kambri Crews's freshman book. One of the reasons I like memoirs and biographies so much is learning about situations and thought processes unlike my own. Neither being a Deaf person nor someone prone to violence, I found Crews's explanations and internal voice regarding these subjects of particular interest. It was also refreshing to read about someone who has made good choices in her life, despite not having a good start. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys non-fic I really enjoyed Kambri Crews's freshman book. One of the reasons I like memoirs and biographies so much is learning about situations and thought processes unlike my own. Neither being a Deaf person nor someone prone to violence, I found Crews's explanations and internal voice regarding these subjects of particular interest. It was also refreshing to read about someone who has made good choices in her life, despite not having a good start. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys non-fiction and a fresh voice!

  9. 4 out of 5

    J.

    This author has risen above tough circumstances to make her way in the world. This is a classic example of triumphing over seemingly insurmountable challenges to become something extraordinary. Read this book to remind yourself that if you put your mind to something, it can be done. Read it to remind yourself we are all human. Read it to remind yourself that forgiveness is crucial to love. Highly recommend.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

    If you enjoyed The Glass Castle, try this memoir about a girl growing up in rural Texas with Deaf parents. It's a compelling story and the writing is adequate. If you enjoyed The Glass Castle, try this memoir about a girl growing up in rural Texas with Deaf parents. It's a compelling story and the writing is adequate.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rana

    There is always the danger of using a memoir to say "I have learned so much about this group of people" when really what you are saying is "I have learned so much about this very specific group of three or four people". Regardless, I loved this and I learned so much about the Deaf community.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    Really enjoyed this book. I live in Montgomery so it was interesting to read about all of the places that I am familiar with. Nicely paced. I usually get a little bored with this type of book. I typically prefer fiction, but this book kept me interested.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sansanee

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The story begins with Crews visiting her father in jail, who's serving a 20-year sentence because he nearly killed his girlfriend. Along the way, she talks about living in a remote part of Texas and how she and her parents and brother had to do everything from the ground up to build their home and take care of themselves. It's the kind of tough, hardscrabble, lonely existence that seems like it's from another era. The memoir becomes even more compelling as we learn about what it's like growing u The story begins with Crews visiting her father in jail, who's serving a 20-year sentence because he nearly killed his girlfriend. Along the way, she talks about living in a remote part of Texas and how she and her parents and brother had to do everything from the ground up to build their home and take care of themselves. It's the kind of tough, hardscrabble, lonely existence that seems like it's from another era. The memoir becomes even more compelling as we learn about what it's like growing up as the hearing child of deaf parents. Like how phone calls work and how it is to deal with the hearing world and having to translate adult conversations for her parents. There's the definite impression of Crews and her brother having to grow up too soon. As a child she bears witness to the volatile relationship of her parents, the inexplicable rages and bullying from her brother. She has her own struggles - navigating junior high and high school being from the wrong side of the tracks, having friends who've taken the wrong turn, and working to support herself and help her family. As her father becomes more angry and openly violent, especially to her mother, she has to choose which way to go, and take care of herself along the way as the family becomes increasingly fractured. Her drive and ambition ultimately leads her to New York, where she now has a life that she could never have imagined growing up in the backwoods of Texas. She loves her family. But she takes a stand after finding out about her father's crime and his abusive history with women. She makes sense of the fragments she remembers from childhood and how this undercurrent of abuse caused trauma for the whole family, culminating in the incident that finally led to her parents' divorce. Burn Down the Ground is a remarkable real-life story and shows the complications of love and family. A definite good read - I stayed up late to finish this!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Dysmonia Kuiper

    Well-written and poignant, this memoir was a nice change from my usual biographical fare, which is mostly comprised of mental illness treatises and rape survivor stories. Kambri Crews grew up a hearing child with deaf parents, so the reader is treated to an interesting and valuable education about the Deaf community. Ostensibly, though, that's not what the book is about. Kambri is not deaf, and although being Deaf is a large part of her parents' identity, this is her memoir, not theirs. In the e Well-written and poignant, this memoir was a nice change from my usual biographical fare, which is mostly comprised of mental illness treatises and rape survivor stories. Kambri Crews grew up a hearing child with deaf parents, so the reader is treated to an interesting and valuable education about the Deaf community. Ostensibly, though, that's not what the book is about. Kambri is not deaf, and although being Deaf is a large part of her parents' identity, this is her memoir, not theirs. In the end, it's the story of (view spoiler)[an abusive childhood at the hands of a predatory father and a battered mother (hide spoiler)] . How deeply these problems run and how profoundly they shaped Kambri's childhood isn't really clear until the end. The majority of the book lives up to the Jeannette Walls/The Glass Castle comparison, although this memoir offers insight and ruminations rather than just a linear account of unusual childhood circumstances. (I would recommend this over The Glass Castle in terms of appeal as a good read.) One small aside -- a nitpick: at the beginning, the author makes a big deal out of recounting her mother's "deaf, not dumb" slogan; as in, "deaf, not unintelligent." "Dumb" was originally slang for "mute," and deaf people sometimes are mute -- as in not communicating via voice. I would never use the phrase because it does have a negative connotation, but equating "dumb" in the phrase "deaf not dumb" with "stupid" is inaccurate from what I understand. Dumb = mute.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    This memoir is absolutely riveting. Raw, emotional and perfectly paced - I didn't want this book to end. Kambri Crews's memoir traces her childhood as the hearing child of two deaf parents, focusing on her father's conviction of attempted murder and 20-year jail term. Crews has to come to terms with who her father his as a person and reconcile the man she knew as a murderer. Crews succeeds. She talks about the man she saw as "Daniel Boone, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, and Elvis Presley all This memoir is absolutely riveting. Raw, emotional and perfectly paced - I didn't want this book to end. Kambri Crews's memoir traces her childhood as the hearing child of two deaf parents, focusing on her father's conviction of attempted murder and 20-year jail term. Crews has to come to terms with who her father his as a person and reconcile the man she knew as a murderer. Crews succeeds. She talks about the man she saw as "Daniel Boone, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ben Franklin, and Elvis Presley all rolled into one" without losing sight of the abusive, violent alcoholic man that eventually stabbed and almost killed his girlfriend. Crews also gives an inside look on the Deaf community and the history of Deaf culture through her parents' backgrounds. Her mother comes from a family of deaf people and consequently had a much easier time. Her father came from a poverty-stricken, conservative farm family and was sent to a boarding school for the Deaf at a young age. Their two backgrounds give a dual look on how the Deaf community has fared over the years. Crews's prose is beautiful without becoming sugary or flowery. She straight-forwardly addresses tough topics without sugarcoating anything. Crews's memoir is a must-read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Granny

    I think the author was too close to her material. This autobiography of an abusive and difficult childhood might have much to recommend it, if the author's writing didn't come across as more purging than literary. I may be stumbling up against the inadequacy of words myself here, in that there are many fine books which were writing as therapy, or a way to confront and make sense of the demons of one's childhood. But there is a lack of maturity here, the book reads more like a simple recitation o I think the author was too close to her material. This autobiography of an abusive and difficult childhood might have much to recommend it, if the author's writing didn't come across as more purging than literary. I may be stumbling up against the inadequacy of words myself here, in that there are many fine books which were writing as therapy, or a way to confront and make sense of the demons of one's childhood. But there is a lack of maturity here, the book reads more like a simple recitation of events. It needs - not polish necessarily - maybe greater depth, more processing and perspective? The final chapter or two starts that process, and it's a promising beginning. But there's a paucity of of the profound insights into the psychology of the people involved which makes this book beg for the wisdom of age and experience. I hope the author will continue to write, learn, and grow. Now that this book is behind her, she can sharpen her skills and bring the trauma of her childhood to create fictional characters with the complexity and perception that I believe she can acheive in the future.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I learned about this book from Julie Klausner's How Was Your Week? podcast and immediately loved the author's sense of humor, her compassionate outlook and sense of perspective. This is a survivor's memoir, and if you're looking for a role model, a vision of how a person can move through a traumatic childhood and come out funny and happy, this is your book. Crews straddles contradictions, she defies black-and-white encapsulations of people. She's comfortable with unreconciled ambiguities, and I lo I learned about this book from Julie Klausner's How Was Your Week? podcast and immediately loved the author's sense of humor, her compassionate outlook and sense of perspective. This is a survivor's memoir, and if you're looking for a role model, a vision of how a person can move through a traumatic childhood and come out funny and happy, this is your book. Crews straddles contradictions, she defies black-and-white encapsulations of people. She's comfortable with unreconciled ambiguities, and I loved that about this book. The story of Kambri's childhood home, a trailer in the Texas woods, exemplifies a kind of Emersonian self-sufficiency--working the earth, building from scratch, carving out a home in the natural world with sweat and limited resources. Crews both idealizes and deromanticizes her childhood home. As always, she reflects on both sides of the coin. Along with the heavier stuff, the memoir is full of great stories of childhood exploits and Ozzy concerts, Chuck E Cheese jobs and first boyfriends. This is a deeply American narrative about hard work, tragedy, structural inequality, class mobility, resilience and individualism. I loved it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kate Rice

    I've known the basics of this story as long as I've known Kambri Crews: She grew up CODA in a rural Texas town, her Dad (an odd mix between an antagonist and a hero) has anger issues and beat her Mom, her Mom divorced her Dad while she was in High School, Kambri married young and moved to Ohio to escape the situation, her Dad is now serving 20 years for the attempted murder of his girlfriend at a Texas penitentiary. Knowing just the basics of the story, I've always been impressed with how generou I've known the basics of this story as long as I've known Kambri Crews: She grew up CODA in a rural Texas town, her Dad (an odd mix between an antagonist and a hero) has anger issues and beat her Mom, her Mom divorced her Dad while she was in High School, Kambri married young and moved to Ohio to escape the situation, her Dad is now serving 20 years for the attempted murder of his girlfriend at a Texas penitentiary. Knowing just the basics of the story, I've always been impressed with how generous, loving and optimistic Kambri is - truly she has grace and character beyond most people I've ever known. Reading the detailed version of this story, I'm floored at all Kambri went through as a child and young adult. To go through what she has and come out the other side as such an amazingly good person? IMHO - Kambri Crews is badass. This memoir reminds me a bit of when I read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; I know it's non-fiction, but it is such an amazing story it reads like a novel. Read this book, it will make you laugh, cry, cringe in fear and feel genuinely happy that the protagonist survived these events to write this account.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Kambri Crews grew up wishing that she were deaf so she could fit into the tight-knit Deaf community that both her parents enjoyed. Kambri and her brother David were born hearing, but both their parents and many family members were deaf. Kambri had to be an intermediary from a young age for her parents. While Kambri's mother could hear a little when she wore her hearing aids, Kambri's father could not hear at all and his deafness made him constantly paranoid that people were making fun or him or Kambri Crews grew up wishing that she were deaf so she could fit into the tight-knit Deaf community that both her parents enjoyed. Kambri and her brother David were born hearing, but both their parents and many family members were deaf. Kambri had to be an intermediary from a young age for her parents. While Kambri's mother could hear a little when she wore her hearing aids, Kambri's father could not hear at all and his deafness made him constantly paranoid that people were making fun or him or talking about him. Kambri always idolized her father, but when she became a teenager she started to fear her Dad's drunken rages when no one knew what he might do. After he attacked her mother they finally divorced. Kambri tried to distance herself from her family and start over on her own. But, when she gets a call that her Dad has been arrested for stabbing his current girlfriend all her feelings come rushing back and she has to confront the reality of who her father really is. Kambri has to forge a new relationship with her family and begin to heal some of the old wounds from her childhood.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Finnegan

    I loved this book for so many reasons! The characters were portrayed consistently as incidents were inserted from earlier or later times and it was very clear what was happening. Even through the sadness of this family came some funny lines and situations which helped to show how resourceful these 2 kids and their Mom were. An especially poignant part of the story that stays in my mind was the way Kambri tried to keep her things organized, and to have something to do which pleased her - and so s I loved this book for so many reasons! The characters were portrayed consistently as incidents were inserted from earlier or later times and it was very clear what was happening. Even through the sadness of this family came some funny lines and situations which helped to show how resourceful these 2 kids and their Mom were. An especially poignant part of the story that stays in my mind was the way Kambri tried to keep her things organized, and to have something to do which pleased her - and so she kept a little "library" of her own books, complete with cards, fines, etc. She had an amazing sense of creativity ( which she still has as an adult) and refusal to give up or become a puddle because of the lack of nurturance her situation brought about. This book was beautifully written, and I sped through it with great interest. Because I know Kambri as an adult, I feel so fortunate to have read this accounting of the trials of her earlier life, and her triumphs of adulthood are all the more amazing.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Bradshaw

    This book opened my eyes in many ways. I was given insight into the deaf community, which is something I previously knew nothing about...nor thought much about. I was shown how others survive without the comforts I (and most of the people I know) find minimal. I was shown the heart and soul of a little girl who was smart, funny, talented, loving, and genuine. She was forced to behave as an adult from a very young age by having to be her parents' voice, by being exposed to inappropriate adult-the This book opened my eyes in many ways. I was given insight into the deaf community, which is something I previously knew nothing about...nor thought much about. I was shown how others survive without the comforts I (and most of the people I know) find minimal. I was shown the heart and soul of a little girl who was smart, funny, talented, loving, and genuine. She was forced to behave as an adult from a very young age by having to be her parents' voice, by being exposed to inappropriate adult-themed jokes and stories, by witnessing (and covering up) her parents' drug-usage, by being forced to live in terrible conditions, make unthinkable sacrifices, and much more. My heart broke for this girl. Yet, I saw her grow stronger and more determined through every heartbreak. This memoir helped me understand how children can continue to love their families, and even find good in them, in spite of abuse, neglect, and constant disappointment. This story will teach you, warm your heart, and open your mind.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    Burning down the Ground is an unflinching memoir, where a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile it to her present life—one in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison. There is an interesting line in the book where Kambri says “if my dad was Superman, then the hearing world was his kryptonite”. I learned a lot about the deafness and the Deaf community in general. At one point Kambri ask Burning down the Ground is an unflinching memoir, where a daughter looks back on her unconventional childhood with deaf parents in rural Texas while trying to reconcile it to her present life—one in which her father is serving a twenty-year sentence in a maximum-security prison. There is an interesting line in the book where Kambri says “if my dad was Superman, then the hearing world was his kryptonite”. I learned a lot about the deafness and the Deaf community in general. At one point Kambri asks her father how he thinks or talks to himself (as when hearing people talk or think to themselves they can actually “hear” their own voice”), it took him a while to consider this but then told her that he just sees his hands signing in his mind. I thought this was very interesting. The author simply tells the story as it happened, unflattering and without apology. I remember thinking as I read this book that this is how you write a memoir. I don’t know why but the library did not own this book and it was well worth the purchase!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lana

    My friend lent this book to me, she won it on goodreads. I liked alot about this book. I loved the fact that this girl was growing up in the same time frame that I did. It was fun reading about the cloths hair and music of the 70 and 80s. It is a interesting book, there is so much that I did not know about living with deaf parents and family. The abuse/neglect is hard to read about but she did well despite of the hard life she was given. I liked reading about how hard she worked both as a child a My friend lent this book to me, she won it on goodreads. I liked alot about this book. I loved the fact that this girl was growing up in the same time frame that I did. It was fun reading about the cloths hair and music of the 70 and 80s. It is a interesting book, there is so much that I did not know about living with deaf parents and family. The abuse/neglect is hard to read about but she did well despite of the hard life she was given. I liked reading about how hard she worked both as a child and a teenager. In the 80s if I wanted something I also had to work after school as did my friends, it was just how it was if you wanted something your parents didnt think was needed. I dont see that many kids working like that now. Her life was so much harder because of her parents struggles with addiction and poor choices.It seemed that the fact they were deaf didnt make her life hard as much as her parents choices. READ THIS BOOK IT MAY BE THE BEST ONE YOU READ THIS YEAR!!!!!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    There are a plethora of memoirs out there about unhappy, dysfunctional childhoods, so many that they’ve become pretty prosaic. Crews’ story, however, is unique and a testament to resilience and overcoming numerous obstacles. Crews and her brother are not hearing impaired, but grew up signing with their parents--and their parents’ friends in their tight-knit deaf community--and interpreting for them in the hearing world. She honestly portrayed what it was like growing up in a hearing impaired hous There are a plethora of memoirs out there about unhappy, dysfunctional childhoods, so many that they’ve become pretty prosaic. Crews’ story, however, is unique and a testament to resilience and overcoming numerous obstacles. Crews and her brother are not hearing impaired, but grew up signing with their parents--and their parents’ friends in their tight-knit deaf community--and interpreting for them in the hearing world. She honestly portrayed what it was like growing up in a hearing impaired household, detailing many nuances that, for the average reader not exposed to those circumstances, would never otherwise think about. Crews balances the heartbreaking with the humorous as she unflinchingly details her family’s struggle through extreme poverty, abuse, alcoholism, and tragedy and all of the twists and turns in between. A very compelling read. Perhaps not quite the five stars I gave it, but better than four.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura McWilliams

    I've always believed that just about every life can be the basis for an interesting memoir. Burn Down the Ground is written by a hearing woman who grew up with deaf parents and inside the Deaf community. It's a really interesting premise that is not executed as well as I would have liked. Author Kambi Crews does not pause on any particular part of her life but tells the story in the format of "this happened. Then this happened. Then this happened." It leaves for a less-than-satisfactory explorat I've always believed that just about every life can be the basis for an interesting memoir. Burn Down the Ground is written by a hearing woman who grew up with deaf parents and inside the Deaf community. It's a really interesting premise that is not executed as well as I would have liked. Author Kambi Crews does not pause on any particular part of her life but tells the story in the format of "this happened. Then this happened. Then this happened." It leaves for a less-than-satisfactory exploration of her life's events. She nearly glosses over a night that seems to have traumatized her. She leaves it to us to assume the event was traumatic but gives us little reason to understand why. I would have preferred that this book largely just focus on either her childhood or her teenage/ adult life. As it is written, it gives short shrift to both time periods.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    I am so pleased that I won a copy of this book through Goodreads! I was impressed by Kambri's candor and willingness to poke all the places that hurt through her memoir. I also appreciated the added details about the Deaf community and ASL because most of us probably have not encountered it before; however, it seemed a little superfluous at times. I found myself wishing she would talk more about her dad as he is now, but maybe that is all the recent experience she's had (or is willing to share). I am so pleased that I won a copy of this book through Goodreads! I was impressed by Kambri's candor and willingness to poke all the places that hurt through her memoir. I also appreciated the added details about the Deaf community and ASL because most of us probably have not encountered it before; however, it seemed a little superfluous at times. I found myself wishing she would talk more about her dad as he is now, but maybe that is all the recent experience she's had (or is willing to share). Her past sounds positively frightening. It totally fascinated me. All in all, I spent most of my Saturday reading it instead of going to the beach. That should tell you something :) This is a book I will keep on my shelf for years to come!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    This was a first read giveway when I signed up for it I was not sure it was my type of book but I went it to it with and open mind. So glad I did it turned out to be one of the best books I have read. Kambri Crews showed her strength and courage in telling her story of growing up with not only deaf parents, but also a abusive alcoholic father and having been striped of everything and living with nothing. It is a book that shows that no matter how bad things are or how bad you thing your childhoo This was a first read giveway when I signed up for it I was not sure it was my type of book but I went it to it with and open mind. So glad I did it turned out to be one of the best books I have read. Kambri Crews showed her strength and courage in telling her story of growing up with not only deaf parents, but also a abusive alcoholic father and having been striped of everything and living with nothing. It is a book that shows that no matter how bad things are or how bad you thing your childhood was take a look around and be grateful for what you have or had because it could always be worse. I recommend everyone reads this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Kambri Crews' memoir of growing up with deaf parents in rural Texas kept me riveted. Although the second half loses steam, it was fascinating to read about her experiences as a hearing child within the deaf community. It's also a wonder she turned out as normal as she did - her father was an alcoholic and serial domestic abuser who violently attacked her mother and eventually went to prison. Writing this memoir must have been a great catharsis for Crews. She doesn't attempt to justify her father Kambri Crews' memoir of growing up with deaf parents in rural Texas kept me riveted. Although the second half loses steam, it was fascinating to read about her experiences as a hearing child within the deaf community. It's also a wonder she turned out as normal as she did - her father was an alcoholic and serial domestic abuser who violently attacked her mother and eventually went to prison. Writing this memoir must have been a great catharsis for Crews. She doesn't attempt to justify her father's actions, but it's clear that his deafness was a prison in and of itself. A very interesting read.

  29. 5 out of 5

    David Stewart

    Kambri Crews has mastered the art of storytelling. BURN DOWN THE GROUND: A MEMOIR is a compelling read and a literary roller coaster ride. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more, I got angry, and I felt intense sorrow while reading this book. Through her brilliant use of descriptions and character development, I felt as though I was actually part of this story and not merely a bystander just peeking in. Good writers are a dime a dozen. Great writers - those who cut to the very soul - are quite Kambri Crews has mastered the art of storytelling. BURN DOWN THE GROUND: A MEMOIR is a compelling read and a literary roller coaster ride. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more, I got angry, and I felt intense sorrow while reading this book. Through her brilliant use of descriptions and character development, I felt as though I was actually part of this story and not merely a bystander just peeking in. Good writers are a dime a dozen. Great writers - those who cut to the very soul - are quite rare indeed. BURN DOWN THE GROUND is a jewel of a story. Kambri Crews is a jewel of an author.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sherman

    I know most of the people who read this book liked it but for me it was a little slow and boring. Reminded me of "The Glass Castle", which I did like and thought it was a very good book but this one just didn't cut it. If you had two parents, one a construction worker and the other in assembly line work with electronics both making good money back then and they lived in a tin shed? Some of it just didn't add up. It's good that everything turned out alright in the end....at least for everyone exc I know most of the people who read this book liked it but for me it was a little slow and boring. Reminded me of "The Glass Castle", which I did like and thought it was a very good book but this one just didn't cut it. If you had two parents, one a construction worker and the other in assembly line work with electronics both making good money back then and they lived in a tin shed? Some of it just didn't add up. It's good that everything turned out alright in the end....at least for everyone except the father.

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