16 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
DreamSE22 reviewed Salt of the Earth: A Mother, a Daughter, a Murder on
Helpful Score: 7
This book was well-written and easy to follow with none of the boring slumps that sometimes go hand in hand with some true crime novels. I really liked how this book started at the beginning of the Gere's and Mayszak's lives and crescendoed, versus the crime being described in full, vivid detail in chapter one like most books in this genre. By the time we actually got to Brenda's disappearance, I felt as if I knew the family quite intimately and I was emotionally attached and affected as well.
The only time I grew restless with this book was when we had to read about scumbag Mike Green's biography toward the end. Thankfully Olsen kept it short and brief enough and we were able to arrive at Brenda's discovery. Along the way, I was also saddened deeply by Joe's demise.
I am truly impressed by Elaine and the way she was able to cope with Brenda's disappearance, Joe's alcoholism, and continuing to successfully raise her sons. What a story! I was so into this book that my eyes became teary when Elaine found out what had happened to Brenda and she was able to seek closure. I was really happy for her.
I am so glad I got to read this book! I loved it all the way through.
The title of this book refers neither to the murderer who destroyed the hard-won tranquility of a young couple and their three children, nor to the 12-yr-old victim, but to the victim's mother. Without subtracting an iota from the uniqueness of her story, Jack Olsen portrays Elaine Gere as one of those heroically strong American women whose lives usually pass unheralded. We follow her indomitable spirit from a childhood in squalor, to marriage and family, to the disappearance of her daughter, through the baffling and enervating aftermath of a high-profile crime, through the years when her devastated husband flounders in alcoholism and turns violent, to the final healing of her broken family. David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars, writes, "Salt of the Earth constitutes a literary achievement of the highest order. It is the complexity of life, its mystery and beauty, its violence and love and terrible strangeness, that Jack Olsen forces to confront here."
This was an excellent read. Although you know the killer almost immediately after the crime, it is still keeps you going. The in depth story of the family and the affects it had on them is so heartbreaking. One can only imagine how a tragedy of this magnitude would affect the family and others close. I think this is the first book that I read that devoted so much time to the victims rather than the criminal. A sad story well told and makes me realize how we are all connected as humans to our neighbors and friends.
Joe Gere has tried to protect his family in every way he knew how. One day his twelve year old daughter disappears. It is left to his wife Elaine to sustain him and the remaining stricken family. Good book
I loved this book. It was very well written. It pulled me in from the first page. I finished this book in a few days because it was so interesting. You come to know the family as just common people trying to live life and be content in it. You go with them through their highs and lows, their loves and their sorrows.It give it a very high recomendation.
One day in September of 1985, 12-year-old Brenda Sue Gere was abducted from her family's home in Clearview, Washington. Her parents, Joe and Elaine Gere, were understandably devastated by the little girl's disappearance, and Joe said he effectively died on the day that Brenda was taken. It was left to Brenda's mother, Elaine to sustain her stricken family, search for her missing child, and pressure the authorities for justice.
From the first minutes of the investigation, suspicion fell on Michael Kay Green - a steroid-abusing "Mr. Universe" hopeful - but there was no proof of a crime, leaving police and prosecutors stymied. Tips and sightings poured in as lawmen and volunteers commenced searching the Cascade forest in a search which would become the largest in Northwest history. Years passed with no sign of blue-eyed Brenda or the bright clothing she had worn on the day she had disappeared. Yet Elaine remained undaunted in her quest.
Salt of the Earth: One Family's Journey Through a Violent American Landscape by Jack Olsen, tells the true story of a simple family thrust into overwhelming grief and the unyielding spotlight by a senseless crime. This story traces the background of the Gere family, the seven-year long crime drama and the effects of tragedy on a family.
I must say that I enjoyed this book very much. It was well-written, easy to follow and the plot had a poignancy about it that I appreciated. I give this book an A+! and look forward to reading more books by Jack Olsen in the future.
All of the reviews for this book have praised the writer's ability to draw a picture of the lives of the victim's family, as well as the lives of the murderer's family, and his own dark and awful past. I can only say that I too found this to be an intense and riveting read. There were times when I had to put it down just to clear my head a bit. The monstrous Michael Green was so obviously guilty right from the start that telling his name here is not at all a "spoiler." Everyone even remotely connected to the case, including the police of course, knew from the start that he was guilty. And yet it took years to bring him to trial for a conviction. He was a huge brute of a young man, with an addiction to steroids that in part, drove him to rape, sodomize, and beat to death with his fists, a helpless 12 year old girl who was the sunshine of her family's life. Several people, neighbors, saw him in the area of Brenda's home that day, one even saw him up the road from the young girl on her pathway home from school. Each one of these people were suspicious of him. He was strange looking, and was behaving oddly. He was out of place there. Yet no one warned her, mentioned him to her, or offered her a ride home. Why? One person replied "she was new in the neighborhood and I had barely spoken to her before." So WHAT!! This little girl's life could have been spared by a simple word or two from a caring person. This was so frustrating to the reader! What the heck is wrong with people? It's horrendous even to think about, but still you won't be able to stop reading to the very end when the epilogue gives you an update on the families of the victim and the killer. There is also a telling of what the murderer's life in prison, and at times in mental hospitals, is like. It's good to know what's become of him.