Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden: A Book Review

My own sister died when I was eight of a gunshot wound. That ended my idyllic childhood in Eastern Washington. My parents never recovered. I fantasized being somewhere else. Maybe rich and powerful too because I thought that would be a better life.

Author Wendy Burden also grew up in the same era I did, but unlike me, had connections to wealth. On the surface she was living my dream as a Vanderbilt-Burden. After reading Wendy's book, Dead End Gene Pool, I realized her life was not the dream I envisioned wealth to be as a child.

Wendy's father died of a gunshot wound when she was seven. The Burden family was plagued by alcohol and drug addiction. Her memoir meticulously captures with dry humor the pain of growing up in a rich and dysfunctional environment.
"My grandparents were into modern art and French wines...(and sleeping masks and prescribed barbiturates). My mother was into tans acquired in different parts of the world."
The rich may be different. In my childhood I played pin the tail on the donkey with a picture of one on the wall. In Wendy's childhood she played the game with a real donkey. 

I'm envious Wendy got the Easy Bake Oven for Christmas, "It practically screamed Crematorium." I wanted one too but got Creepy Crawlers instead. Wendy called it, "a control freak's dream set with a baking oven that could leave scars worthy of an acetylene torch."

The word, "survivor," comes to mind when I read this book. And the truth is we all carry some scars from adolescence. Some more than others.

Approach Dead End Gene Pool with an open mind and heart. The writing will sometimes shock you, sometimes make you laugh and leave you questioning what makes a life rich.

Rob's Rating: 4/5

For author information, visit Wendy Burden's website and Facebook page. She will also be commenting live on the website Books On The Brain, May 18, at 5:00pm, PST.

Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden. Gotham Books. 2010.
FTC: I received a complimentary ARC of Dead End Gene Pool from the publisher. 

Thanks, Lisa, for the chance to participate on my first TLC Book Tour. Be sure to visit the TLC site for a list of all participants.


  1. I'm glad this one worked for you Rob. I just could not get into this one for some reason. Maybe at another time.

  2. I am always interested in reading how the "other half" lives. I will definitely check this one out soon.

  3. Not usually the type of thing I read, but this definitely sounds intriguing.

  4. Generally not the type of book I rwould pick up, but after reading your review, I would consider it. Thanks.

  5. Nice review, Rob. These kinds of books make me really sad and I find them a bit tough to read -- so thanks for sharing.


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