Hot Best Seller

Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home

Availability: Ready to download

Six Feet Under meets The Wire in a dazzling and darkly comic memoir about coming-of-age in a black funeral home in Baltimore Sheri Booker was only fifteen years old when she started working at Wylie Funeral Home in West Baltimore. She had no idea that her summer job would become nine years of immersion in a hidden world. Reeling from the death of her beloved great aun Six Feet Under meets The Wire in a dazzling and darkly comic memoir about coming-of-age in a black funeral home in Baltimore Sheri Booker was only fifteen years old when she started working at Wylie Funeral Home in West Baltimore. She had no idea that her summer job would become nine years of immersion in a hidden world. Reeling from the death of her beloved great aunt, she found comfort in the funeral home, and soon has the run of the place, from its sacred chapels to the terrifying embalming room. With AIDS and gang violence threatening to wipe out a generation of black men, Wylie was never short on business. As families came together to bury one of their own, Booker was privy to their most intimate moments of grief and despair. But along with the sadness, Booker encountered moments of dark humor: brawls between mistresses and widows, and car crashes at McDonald’s with dead bodies in tow. While she never got over her terror of the embalming room, Booker learned to expect the unexpected and to never, ever cry. This vibrant tour of a macabre world reveals an urban funeral culture where photo-screened memorial T-shirts often replace suits and ties and the dead are sent off with a joint or a fifth of cognac. Nine Years Under offers readers an unbelievable glimpse into an industry in the backdrop of all our lives.


Compare

Six Feet Under meets The Wire in a dazzling and darkly comic memoir about coming-of-age in a black funeral home in Baltimore Sheri Booker was only fifteen years old when she started working at Wylie Funeral Home in West Baltimore. She had no idea that her summer job would become nine years of immersion in a hidden world. Reeling from the death of her beloved great aun Six Feet Under meets The Wire in a dazzling and darkly comic memoir about coming-of-age in a black funeral home in Baltimore Sheri Booker was only fifteen years old when she started working at Wylie Funeral Home in West Baltimore. She had no idea that her summer job would become nine years of immersion in a hidden world. Reeling from the death of her beloved great aunt, she found comfort in the funeral home, and soon has the run of the place, from its sacred chapels to the terrifying embalming room. With AIDS and gang violence threatening to wipe out a generation of black men, Wylie was never short on business. As families came together to bury one of their own, Booker was privy to their most intimate moments of grief and despair. But along with the sadness, Booker encountered moments of dark humor: brawls between mistresses and widows, and car crashes at McDonald’s with dead bodies in tow. While she never got over her terror of the embalming room, Booker learned to expect the unexpected and to never, ever cry. This vibrant tour of a macabre world reveals an urban funeral culture where photo-screened memorial T-shirts often replace suits and ties and the dead are sent off with a joint or a fifth of cognac. Nine Years Under offers readers an unbelievable glimpse into an industry in the backdrop of all our lives.

30 review for Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X

    The blurb says this book is "vibrant". That's just sales talk. The book is the boring story of a 15 year old girl who goes to work as essentially an odd job girl in a funeral home. She doesn't do anything fascinating, she doesn't meet any really interesting people most of the people she meets are dead, relatives of the dead or those going to bury the dead at exorbitant prices. The cheapest funeral with a 'cardboard' casket is $3,000. It's $500 here to get sewn into a an old sail cloth and have a The blurb says this book is "vibrant". That's just sales talk. The book is the boring story of a 15 year old girl who goes to work as essentially an odd job girl in a funeral home. She doesn't do anything fascinating, she doesn't meet any really interesting people most of the people she meets are dead, relatives of the dead or those going to bury the dead at exorbitant prices. The cheapest funeral with a 'cardboard' casket is $3,000. It's $500 here to get sewn into a an old sail cloth and have a nice old three-master drop you off over the Sea Mount for fish food. And all your mourners get a couple of hours sail on a schooner, bring your own booze. The book gets an extra star because of something totally and utterly mystifying the author said and then didn't explain. When she started the job she was told that the evening staff had to do the washing up before she went home. She wrote that she hoped not as she'd never washed up anything in her life! So the first opportunity she has to hook the reader, she... drops it. I think she has more future in embalming if I am to be totally honest. For a look at a young woman's experience in the death business, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory is far more fascinating.

  2. 4 out of 5

    J Beckett

    “Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home,” by Sheri Booker, was introduce to me before I saw the cover. What I read is perhaps that most unique memoir I have come across in a very long time. Set in Baltimore, “Nine Years...” addresses "life" in the funeral business, but it twists, turns, and journeys beyond the normal expectations of death and gore. It takes the reader into a depth that is unexpected, applying a level of storytelling that is both telling and profound, and t “Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home,” by Sheri Booker, was introduce to me before I saw the cover. What I read is perhaps that most unique memoir I have come across in a very long time. Set in Baltimore, “Nine Years...” addresses "life" in the funeral business, but it twists, turns, and journeys beyond the normal expectations of death and gore. It takes the reader into a depth that is unexpected, applying a level of storytelling that is both telling and profound, and that is very welcoming. Part confessional, part biography, “Nine Years Under...” opens, a few pages in, with the death of Booker’s aunt. This experience evolves into the unexpected, unpredicted, and 'unlikely' undertakers' Odyssey for fifteen-year-old Booker. Alfred Wiley, the proprietor of Wiley funeral home, sees something special in young Booker, and oddly, offers her employment (it took a while to understand offering a funeral home job to a fifteen-year-old), and she rises, profoundly, to the occasion. Sheri becomes a sort of protégé in the world of embalming and reconstruction, learning every aspect of the business (she began and remained in the business office for years before she started working on bodies) and letting it shape her into someone she certainly would not have been otherwise. Throughout the book, Booker prepares the reader for something unexpected. Each page climbs to uncertain destinations. She colors the story with characters that seem almost surreal and often immense. The image of a funeral home is unhinged as she writes of mourners holding their own “form of ceremony” and of fights that spill over into the street in front of the funeral home and the brutal death of personal acquaintances whose lifeless bodies become clients. She lets us into her heart, and into the often complex personalities of her characters. Booker, for example, nails the sometimes tyrannous personality of Alfred Wiley, creating him with broad no-nonsense strokes insisting on uncompromising loyalty and unquestioned commitment, even if he refuses to reciprocate the same (when firing someone he says, “leave the keys”). She confesses a sort of unrequited love for the son of Wiley, but dart strategically through the details so we are left to wonder the actual depth of their relationship. She does, however, profess the eventual realization that the Booker / Wiley affair was a love that was never meant to be. But even there, it seemed that she held back the details. The book has magic and equally some moments that feel self-serving, but it does entertain, and it does reveal many unknowns. “Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home” answers questions that many may refuse to ask about funeral homes and the business, and it makes Sheri Booker translucent. Nine Years... is part history lesson, part sit-com, but all a lesson of life, loyalty, love, and death. A worthy read, from a special talent.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susan (aka Just My Op)

    A memoir about “coming of age in an inner city funeral home.” Terrific possibilities, poor execution. If nothing else, it reinforces my decision to never, ever, be embalmed. Although this could have been a fascinating book, the writing was, at best, mediocre. It made potentially interesting stories pretty boring. As far as the blurb on the book about “darkly comic,” there just wasn't much of that in it. A couple of mildly humorous bits doesn't make for darkly comic. The author seemed to have little A memoir about “coming of age in an inner city funeral home.” Terrific possibilities, poor execution. If nothing else, it reinforces my decision to never, ever, be embalmed. Although this could have been a fascinating book, the writing was, at best, mediocre. It made potentially interesting stories pretty boring. As far as the blurb on the book about “darkly comic,” there just wasn't much of that in it. A couple of mildly humorous bits doesn't make for darkly comic. The author seemed to have little compassion for the people who didn't live up to her standards. A smelly, disheveled woman came to the funeral home wanting to commit suicide there, and instead of calling for someone who could help the extremely disturbed woman, she was kicked out. The author's comment, “A motel room would have served her just fine.” So, not only did she not care about this person killing herself, she wanted the staff of a hotel to have to find her body? There was no concern, or even curiosity, about what happened to the woman. The author's compassion was very selective. And it seemed her loyalties were misplaced. She stood by boss Mr. Wylie even when he was making heartless decisions. Much of the story just came across as self-aggrandizement. About items left in a coffin by visiting guests, the author writes “Neither of us smoked marijuana or drank, so there was no need to keep them for us.” Did they generally keep for themselves items left if they thought they could use them? When a woman was distraught over receiving her dog's ashes, the author was nervous that she would “lose it” trying not to laugh at this woman. Darkly comic? No. I was given an advance copy of the book for review, and the quotes may have changed in the published edition.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    In Nine Years Under, Booker recounts her nine years spent working under the mentorship of Albert Philip Wylie in Wylie Funeral Home. This book reveals the things that you never thought you’d know about what goes on behind the scenes one of the least glamorous professions. When teenage parents of a deceased infant wanted Wylie Funeral Home to arrange the service, Booker learned from Wylie that sometimes you just have to do the right thing. The parents could only come up with $100 to pay for the se In Nine Years Under, Booker recounts her nine years spent working under the mentorship of Albert Philip Wylie in Wylie Funeral Home. This book reveals the things that you never thought you’d know about what goes on behind the scenes one of the least glamorous professions. When teenage parents of a deceased infant wanted Wylie Funeral Home to arrange the service, Booker learned from Wylie that sometimes you just have to do the right thing. The parents could only come up with $100 to pay for the service but Mr. Wylie agree to take what they could pay and cover the rest himself. Although it may be apparent when an illness has caused changes in an individual’s weight before death, it’s not always something that a grieving family considers when choosing an outfit for burial. In the cases where clothes do not fit, Booker reveals tricks used by Wylie to fit the bodies into the clothes. I’m not sure if this is an industry standard but I found it thoughtful that Wylie does this to eliminate what could be an additional burden on the families. Hair is not something that crosses my mind when I think burial but Wylie Funeral Home has rarely buried a woman whose hair didn’t need to be done. For hair that Wylie couldn’t manage himself, there was an on-call stylist. In addition to the look inside the life of a funeral home director, I liked the tidbits about entrepreneurship and am glad Booker made that a part of the book. But there are a few things that I thought didn’t come to any resolution. Even with what Booker learned while working in the funeral home, her experience seemingly had no impact on her ultimate career path. I was also left wondering what happened to Booker’s mother who she mentioned received a cancer diagnosis. I felt some storylines seemed odd for this book and the recounts seemed insensitive in places (too many places) but hilarious in others. By the time I finished the book, I felt so-so about it. But I’ll be watching to see what she writes next.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michael Stevens

    One of the cardinal sins committed by young nonfiction authors is that they think that their personal stories are sufficiently interesting to rate being a book. But the challenge isn't to tell about interesting stories; it is to tell the story so that it is interesting and that takes considerably more experience and skill. Ironically, Ms. Booker's stories of racism, homophobia, gang violence, and religion, -as filtered through a funeral home- are important and should be of sufficient interest to One of the cardinal sins committed by young nonfiction authors is that they think that their personal stories are sufficiently interesting to rate being a book. But the challenge isn't to tell about interesting stories; it is to tell the story so that it is interesting and that takes considerably more experience and skill. Ironically, Ms. Booker's stories of racism, homophobia, gang violence, and religion, -as filtered through a funeral home- are important and should be of sufficient interest to hold a reader's attention. However, her voice, hindsight, and maturity at understanding and distilling the situations from her past are just not there yet. The book is sophomoric in scope and tone. The author's voice and writing quality is, at times, uneven. To be fair: it is an ambitious memoir. But when all is said and done: we really don't know much social relationships in funeral service in urban Baltimore. And the part that put me off the most? After reading the book, the author claims that her relationships and work experiences ended up being inconsequential. No reader wants to hear that after getting to the end of the adventure; Ms Booker clearly implies that she left this job after nine years with MORE than two boxes of her belongings. But as an author: she didn't quite show us that.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Eugene

    This is the type of book I love (quirky, interesting subculture; dark comedy) so I expected to love it. I didn't (although clearly, I'm in the minority). To me, it read more like a series of mildly amusing anecdotes than a real story with dramatic tension, character development, etc. I kept expecting it to get better but it never did. The narrator comes across as emotionless (not someone who is burying her emotions as I think she intended, but shallow). She finally revealed herself in the epilog This is the type of book I love (quirky, interesting subculture; dark comedy) so I expected to love it. I didn't (although clearly, I'm in the minority). To me, it read more like a series of mildly amusing anecdotes than a real story with dramatic tension, character development, etc. I kept expecting it to get better but it never did. The narrator comes across as emotionless (not someone who is burying her emotions as I think she intended, but shallow). She finally revealed herself in the epilogue but by then it was too late. And there was so much that was confusing: confusing story lines that were left hanging, confusing time lines, etc. It read as if it hadn't been edited at all. One example: she dedicates the book to her mother (her "hero" and "best friend) but says her aunt virtually raised her (???). Warning: slight spoiler alert. Her mother becomes very ill near the beginning, Sheri reacts with virtually no emotion, and then only occasionally mentions her mother again throughout the book. And she never tells us what happened to her mother in the epilogue. In a book that is essentially about how we deal with death, it makes no sense that she would virtually ignore the topic of the looming death of her "best friend and "hero". This is just one example of the core problems in the book: I could give a dozen more (Brandon storyline; what a mess). A very unsatisfying read for me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    In my 36 years on this earth I have had the role of a death sitter three times. I have seen the light that shines in the eyes fade, as the soul transitions to another level. I have waited for the funeral home to come retrieve my loved one’s body and watched as they placed him or her in the body bag. To some it might seem morbid, but I could not leave until the very end. Although I have seen the steps of death, I have been slightly curious about what happens afterwards. I remember how impressed I In my 36 years on this earth I have had the role of a death sitter three times. I have seen the light that shines in the eyes fade, as the soul transitions to another level. I have waited for the funeral home to come retrieve my loved one’s body and watched as they placed him or her in the body bag. To some it might seem morbid, but I could not leave until the very end. Although I have seen the steps of death, I have been slightly curious about what happens afterwards. I remember how impressed I was when both my grandmother and grandfather looked good. In fact, they were almost unrecognizable after the makeup, embalming, and wigs were applied. I was amazed how the mortician was able to take away the kiss of death, to the point where it looked like they were sleeping in the caskets. This book is about the inner works of a funeral home and one young woman’s experience there. It tells the story of her nine year life lesson, on how a funeral home became a jump start at creating the person she is today. I absolutely enjoyed this book. I loved how the author brought the reader from her first experience as a young fifteen year old girl to a grown woman nine years later. I found the details about the inner workings of the funeral home and its characters to be enjoyable. I was impressed how the author was honest with the location and culture of the funeral. Not everyone has a great deal of money, but most do the best they can. I was told by my grandmother for many years that death is the great equalizer and this book demonstrates this concept through and through. There were no stereotypes, prejudices, ignorance, or blame games of equality. There was only the honest truth about death and its lack of eyes. Death tends to be blind to people and it only senses its victims. This book has a lot to offer and I was very impressed. It answered many of my questions about what takes place in a funeral home when no one is around. I am not one to watch television, so this book gave me answers on a more personable level. I have to recommend this book hands down and must thank both goodreads and the author for sending me this book for review in a giveaway. I appreciate it and am happy that I won!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Orsolya

    Having given “Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home” by Sheri Booker an ample attempt; I must admit defeat. “Nine Years Under” is a memoir of a young lady (approximately mid-20s currently) who worked in a funeral home after the death of her own great-aunt. The memoir piques interest both with the opened door into the inner-workings of a funeral home and of Booker’s growth during formative teen years (not many young ladies work in a funeral home during high school). Sadly, Having given “Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home” by Sheri Booker an ample attempt; I must admit defeat. “Nine Years Under” is a memoir of a young lady (approximately mid-20s currently) who worked in a funeral home after the death of her own great-aunt. The memoir piques interest both with the opened door into the inner-workings of a funeral home and of Booker’s growth during formative teen years (not many young ladies work in a funeral home during high school). Sadly, the premise is strong but the execution is poor. Booker undeniably has strong writing skills in terms of prose and language. Her style is creative, eloquent, but friendly at the same time. However, this is over-dramatized with flowery detail. I am a reader who enjoys specific descriptions and vivid imagery but Booker overdoes it as several pages pass without the story progressing. One wants to tell Booker to, “Get on with it!”. To be blunt, Booker is a new writer who pens the memoir per the lesson plan of her college creative writing courses with no emotion or depth. It is clear that her style is better suited for a fiction novel instead of a memoir (in fact, I wouldn’t mind reading such a piece from her). Furthermore, Booker tends to simply recall events and plainly relate what occurred (“this happened, and then that”) versus bring the events to life. “Nine Years Under” also suffers from a lack of cohesive storytelling. Booker attempts to mingle her experiences with moral lessons and past events but fails and therefore “Nine Years Under” is choppy, disjointed, and tends to jump back-and-forth chronologically which is sharp and distracting. Booker is also not particularly likable coming off as immature, conceited, egotistical, and flimsy. This effects “Nine Years Under” as it is a memoir and therefore lacks the particular draw of an attractive individual in focus which would make it compelling. Overall, the theme may be interesting the fact that Booker “tried too hard” and the simultaneous lack of emotion is too much for me and resulted in me giving up. Again, I wouldn’t mind reading a fiction novel from Booker; but a memoir was not her best choice of writing route.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I received this book from GoodReads First Reads Booker's story provides an interesting insight into the funeral business. I found myself intrigued by the little details, such as the "black pen only" rule and cutting clothing to adjust for body size. Likes 1. The behind-the-scene moments of the funeral business 2. Mr. Wylie's determination to succeed Dislikes 1. Mr. Wylie was by far the most interesting and complex character. However, his story is never truly explored. 2. Sheri's relationship wi I received this book from GoodReads First Reads Booker's story provides an interesting insight into the funeral business. I found myself intrigued by the little details, such as the "black pen only" rule and cutting clothing to adjust for body size. Likes 1. The behind-the-scene moments of the funeral business 2. Mr. Wylie's determination to succeed Dislikes 1. Mr. Wylie was by far the most interesting and complex character. However, his story is never truly explored. 2. Sheri's relationship with Brandon is hollow and meaningless. Why she felt drawn to him escapes me. 3. Sheri, for the most part, attempts to appear deep emotionally, but it was not convincing. It was as if she was trying too hard to be meaningful. Several lines that should have been somewhat moving felt cheap. 4. This story is described as a dark comic memoir. I did not find this story to be dark or humorous in any way.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    Nine Years Under is a fantastic debut. Sherri Booker has written an engaging, thoughtful, humorous and original book. This real life chronicle of growing up working in a inner city Baltimore funeral home really strips down our inhibitions regarding death. We see how death and dying comes to us all, and how natural it is. She takes into the industry that lives day in and day out with death and grieving, she shows us how their purpose is all about those left behind, and how to ease their pains. Ms Nine Years Under is a fantastic debut. Sherri Booker has written an engaging, thoughtful, humorous and original book. This real life chronicle of growing up working in a inner city Baltimore funeral home really strips down our inhibitions regarding death. We see how death and dying comes to us all, and how natural it is. She takes into the industry that lives day in and day out with death and grieving, she shows us how their purpose is all about those left behind, and how to ease their pains. Ms. Booker takes us into this world and makes it live (pardon the pun) and breathe for us, and also reminds us that the people who work there never get a chance to cry over their work. They stand tall so that we can grieve. Quite an amazing book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Katie Followell

    I was unable to put this book down. I felt like she told the reader lots of stories that we all really wanted to ask funeral directors, and I appreciated that she spent most of the book talking about the funeral business with just occasional glimpses into her personal life. I think that made the book feel focused and helped it flow better.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    After a confusing start to the book, where the author freaks out about a relative's death but doesn't explain why exactly, there's a good solid 150 pages of the life and times of a Black funeral home in Baltimore. We meet the off-beat staff who run the Wylie Funeral Home, and are introduced to the many ways to die in Baltimore, and what happens next. The behind-the-scenes aspect of this book is a neat melange of comings and goings, staff drama and compelling descriptions of back-of-the-house-rea After a confusing start to the book, where the author freaks out about a relative's death but doesn't explain why exactly, there's a good solid 150 pages of the life and times of a Black funeral home in Baltimore. We meet the off-beat staff who run the Wylie Funeral Home, and are introduced to the many ways to die in Baltimore, and what happens next. The behind-the-scenes aspect of this book is a neat melange of comings and goings, staff drama and compelling descriptions of back-of-the-house-realness. This culminates in the author getting over her fear of the embalming room and process, and all it entails. But. The last fifty pages describe how and why the author left her job at the funeral home, and it really boils down to being a young twentysomething causing messes. No judgment, without fail we were all causing messes in our early twenties, but in the author's case, the focus on the mess and her firing drag down the earlier momentum of the memoir. Points for honesty, though.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Beck

    http://andalittlewine.blogspot.com/20... I spent a long time reading Sheri Booker's Nine Years Under, and now I've spent nearly as long thinking about what to say about it. Booker's prose is fluid and engaging. Her promise as a writer is immense, but her story didn't engage me the way I wanted it to. Maybe because I read A Chance to Win, and it is such a great book about inner city life, that I wished for too much from Booker. First, she has the disadvantage of being a memoirist and limited to her http://andalittlewine.blogspot.com/20... I spent a long time reading Sheri Booker's Nine Years Under, and now I've spent nearly as long thinking about what to say about it. Booker's prose is fluid and engaging. Her promise as a writer is immense, but her story didn't engage me the way I wanted it to. Maybe because I read A Chance to Win, and it is such a great book about inner city life, that I wished for too much from Booker. First, she has the disadvantage of being a memoirist and limited to her own story, as opposed to a reporter/ biographer who has multiple story lines to choose from. Second, perhaps Booker's publicist did her a disservice by promising With AIDS and gang violence threatening to wipe out a generation of black men, Wylie was never short on business. As families came together to bury one of their own, Booker was privy to their most intimate moments of grief and despair. But along with the sadness, Booker encountered moments of dark humor: brawls between mistresses and widows, and car crashes at McDonald’s with dead bodies in tow. While she never got over her terror of the embalming room, Booker learned to expect the unexpected and to never, ever cry. While all those things are evident in Booker's memoir, they never feel like they take center stage; they are scenery, but the play is about a young girl struggling through the process of growing up, through having and leaving a beloved first job. What was most missing from Nine Years Under was what I thought was its most obvious angle: Booker's parents. Her mother appears as half a character; she is her cancer, appearing only in horrid cycles of remission and recurrence. Her father is a presence but not a character. He's a Baltimore cop who can't watch The Wire because it hits too close to home, who has dedicated his life to make sure his daughter makes it out. But he never speaks, never offers advice or counsel. Without her family, the characters of her life are limited to the funeral home's major players. But their interactions seem too limited to truly fill the surrogate family roles Booker assigns them. What was perhaps a compelling story in a 10,000 word magazine feature because drawn out and overwrought in a 300 page memoir. Perhaps, in another few years, we'll see a second installment from Booker. I'd read it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shari Larsen

    I received a free copy of this book to review from Library Thing. Sheri Booker was only 15 years old, and still reeling from the death of her beloved aunt, when she took a job at Wylie Funeral Home in Baltimore. She had no idea at the time her summer job of answering the door and the phone would become a job she would hold for 9 years, learning every aspect of the business, and even going to that room in the basement she swore she would never step foot in, the embalming room. She found comfort in I received a free copy of this book to review from Library Thing. Sheri Booker was only 15 years old, and still reeling from the death of her beloved aunt, when she took a job at Wylie Funeral Home in Baltimore. She had no idea at the time her summer job of answering the door and the phone would become a job she would hold for 9 years, learning every aspect of the business, and even going to that room in the basement she swore she would never step foot in, the embalming room. She found comfort in her job, and a second family with the Wylies. She was privy to the most intimate moments of grief and despair of the families they served, and she learned how to show sympathy and compassion for the families, while at the same time keeping her emotions out of her work. The number one rule was to do your job, but never, ever cry. This memoir gives a fascinating look to the behind the scenes world of the funeral home business, with honest, but not gruesome, details. There are also moments of dark humor shared among the staff, but they all treated the dead with dignity and respect. This was a good book, and I was impressed with the maturity and emotional fortitude Ms. Booker possessed as a teenager. Working in the death business would be hard for most adults to handle, so I was very impressed that she did her job so well. Mr. Wylie was not an easy boss to please; she writes about him with honesty, but also with great respect.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Sheri Booker has written a sweet, heartwarming memoir in her own voice about growing up while working part time at the local funeral home. Like others in the "helping" professions caring for ill and dying people or in this case dead people, Sheri Booker needed to learn how to control her emotions to allow her to do the best job for her boss and their customers. Criticism that she is unemotional and not compassionate is unwarranted. I found the story of how her boss teaches her to control her emo Sheri Booker has written a sweet, heartwarming memoir in her own voice about growing up while working part time at the local funeral home. Like others in the "helping" professions caring for ill and dying people or in this case dead people, Sheri Booker needed to learn how to control her emotions to allow her to do the best job for her boss and their customers. Criticism that she is unemotional and not compassionate is unwarranted. I found the story of how her boss teaches her to control her emotions very interesting. There are several places in the book, where the reader will note that Booker was having a real tough time dealing with the many aspects of the death she saw every day. The most memorable is when she said that all the young men she should have been dating were instead coming to the funeral home in caskets. The funeral home's location in the inner city provides many of the stories as much of their business was a result of violence. Some of the stories seemed very specific and I hope that Sheri Booker consolidated them to make these people unidentifiable. Booker does a great job balancing details about running a funeral home with just the right amount of stories about the customers and her life.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alisa Kester

    I read this book because I find mortuary work fascinating, but I found myself just so disgusted by the author's personal decisions that it was a struggle to finish. She spends so much time talking about how mature and responsible she is, and how she hates the drug and gang culture around her, yet who does she choose to date for her first boyfriend? A drug dealer! She seems to have no moral problem with his lifestyle at all - and only breaks it off (reluctantly) when he knowingly involves her in I read this book because I find mortuary work fascinating, but I found myself just so disgusted by the author's personal decisions that it was a struggle to finish. She spends so much time talking about how mature and responsible she is, and how she hates the drug and gang culture around her, yet who does she choose to date for her first boyfriend? A drug dealer! She seems to have no moral problem with his lifestyle at all - and only breaks it off (reluctantly) when he knowingly involves her in an attempted murder. Her second boyfriend she dumped for 'being weak'. He was 'weak' because he confessed to his other girlfriend that he was cheating on her with the author. She has no problem whatsoever in sleeping around with a cheating man, only with him being honest. She even has a long list of all the lies he could have/should have told, if he were a "strong man". None of this would have been a problem if she had come to some some kind of life-changing lessons by the end - or at least some kind of awareness of herself, but she doesn't. She's the same arrogant, immature, hypocritical person she was at the beginning.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jough

    Maybe it's because I'm from Baltimore, lived here the vast majority of my life, or that I had the pleasure to meet Ms. Booker, or that we received undergraduate degrees from the same Catholic college, but I found this book exceptional. Having looked at other reviews of this book I can understand why some people would give it low ratings. It is her first non-fiction book, her only other published work as of yet is a book of poems, and the subject matter of this book can be unsettling. Aside from Maybe it's because I'm from Baltimore, lived here the vast majority of my life, or that I had the pleasure to meet Ms. Booker, or that we received undergraduate degrees from the same Catholic college, but I found this book exceptional. Having looked at other reviews of this book I can understand why some people would give it low ratings. It is her first non-fiction book, her only other published work as of yet is a book of poems, and the subject matter of this book can be unsettling. Aside from the main story line of growing up working in a funeral home, there is also considerable dialogue about what it is to be a young black woman growing up in Baltimore City trying to avoid being eaten up by the streets. This is also the story of entrepreneurship in a very competitive industry. While her writing experience is a little sophomoric, her honesty and passion do her a great deal of credit. I found the relationship she builds with the Wylie family touching, the family dynamic interesting, (specifically because I know the chances of having two loving parents in the inner city is not usual). I highly recommend it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alicia

    It seems as though I'm in good company on Goodreads with others' ratings of a mediocre book. I am in that majority. While the topic fascinates me to no end and I've enjoyed nonfiction titles like Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory and fictional stories about the industry like The Boy in the Black Suit, the execution of the story left much to be desired and after a few segments, I stopped reading it. I'm truly bummed becaus It seems as though I'm in good company on Goodreads with others' ratings of a mediocre book. I am in that majority. While the topic fascinates me to no end and I've enjoyed nonfiction titles like Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory and fictional stories about the industry like The Boy in the Black Suit, the execution of the story left much to be desired and after a few segments, I stopped reading it. I'm truly bummed because I wanted to learn, but the writing wasn't gripping, humorous, serious, or science-y enough to maintain interest even with a topic as interesting as this.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Rigg

    Booker, a sheltered child of a police officer father and a school principal mother, begins working at a funeral home in inner-city Baltimore at age 15, shortly after her beloved Aunt Mary dies, and ends up staying there for nine years. She learns about love and death, how not to cry, and the toll that holding back your tears can take. She talks about the ins and outs of the funeral business, and the rise of black-owned funeral homes. She tells humorous or scary anecdotes about things that happen Booker, a sheltered child of a police officer father and a school principal mother, begins working at a funeral home in inner-city Baltimore at age 15, shortly after her beloved Aunt Mary dies, and ends up staying there for nine years. She learns about love and death, how not to cry, and the toll that holding back your tears can take. She talks about the ins and outs of the funeral business, and the rise of black-owned funeral homes. She tells humorous or scary anecdotes about things that happened during her nine years at the funeral home. Her writing is NOT PC. There are a couple unkind cracks about fat people, and the way she talks about transgender women seems naive if not borderline offensive. However, this sort of unfiltered way of writing about her experience makes it feel like you're one of her girlfriends and she is gossiping with you over coffee about the weird things she encountered at work, and that's a lot of what makes it entertaining. I liked this and recommend it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I loved the HBO drama Six Feet Under about a family living in a funeral home. When I got as chance to read Nine Years Under by Sheri Booker, as part of the Goodreads First Reads program, I was pretty excited. In part because I have morbid curiosity that remains about the funeral home business left over from my Six Feet Under viewing days. Sheri Booker does a great job detailing her time working at a funeral home and, almost inadvertently, discussing crime that took place in Baltimore during her I loved the HBO drama Six Feet Under about a family living in a funeral home. When I got as chance to read Nine Years Under by Sheri Booker, as part of the Goodreads First Reads program, I was pretty excited. In part because I have morbid curiosity that remains about the funeral home business left over from my Six Feet Under viewing days. Sheri Booker does a great job detailing her time working at a funeral home and, almost inadvertently, discussing crime that took place in Baltimore during her funeral home work. Booker lovingly writes of her boss, who, despite her careful telling, still doesn't come off as the nicest of men. While the book promotes itself as darkly comedic, I would say it's anything but funny. Interesting, yes, but not funny. That said, I read it in a day and enjoyed myself doing it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    For some reason, the "death" industry has intrigued me for many years. Not necessarily what leads up to it, of course, but what comes next: how we deal with the body, care for the grieving (and often fighting) family and friends left behind, and tie up what's left of the business of life. Booker shares her experiences working for a funeral director in Baltimore, beginning at the tender age of 15. The part-time job eventually turns into a full-time gig, as she graduates from high school, and then For some reason, the "death" industry has intrigued me for many years. Not necessarily what leads up to it, of course, but what comes next: how we deal with the body, care for the grieving (and often fighting) family and friends left behind, and tie up what's left of the business of life. Booker shares her experiences working for a funeral director in Baltimore, beginning at the tender age of 15. The part-time job eventually turns into a full-time gig, as she graduates from high school, and then college. I did learn a few things -- for example, after an autopsy, where the M.E. removes and weighs vital organs, these organs are kept in a bag with the body, embalmed separately, and then placed back in the body cavity. (I hope you weren't eating just now.) This book won't be for everyone, and in fact, I can't think of one friend or family member who would enjoy it. But I did.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Knoke

    I found this book interesting and enjoyed the writer's personality and writing style. Although a book about working for nine years in an inner city mortuary is not something I would normally read, it did turn out to be a most interesting read on a subject I know nothing about. I found it quite absorbing, especially the traditions regarding the burial practices of this black community in West Baltimore. I was moved by the respect, and importance the community places on providing their deceased re I found this book interesting and enjoyed the writer's personality and writing style. Although a book about working for nine years in an inner city mortuary is not something I would normally read, it did turn out to be a most interesting read on a subject I know nothing about. I found it quite absorbing, especially the traditions regarding the burial practices of this black community in West Baltimore. I was moved by the respect, and importance the community places on providing their deceased relatives with a dignified burial. There is a lot of love in this book and it is quite moving. I was also impressed by the author, who started working in this funeral home at age fifteen, and basically grew up while doing so. She is an intelligent and absorbing writer. Her story is at times quite amusing, often moving, and sometimes disturbing. I recommend this as an unusual and interesting read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I received this book though Goodreads' Giveaways. Not ordinarily something I would probably pick up myself, but it was definitely interesting. The author has a strong start here, and the writing style is very readable, but could definitely use some more editing in my opinion. (One phrase regarding the author, 15 years old at the time, referring to her bosom made me stop and laugh out loud at the absurdity of it.) Overall an interesting look at behind the scenes at a funeral parlor. Definitely sid I received this book though Goodreads' Giveaways. Not ordinarily something I would probably pick up myself, but it was definitely interesting. The author has a strong start here, and the writing style is very readable, but could definitely use some more editing in my opinion. (One phrase regarding the author, 15 years old at the time, referring to her bosom made me stop and laugh out loud at the absurdity of it.) Overall an interesting look at behind the scenes at a funeral parlor. Definitely sides more towards the "coming of age" than the funeral parlor aspect, but it wasn't a girly book at all. I enjoyed it but didn't love it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    I received an advanced copy of the book through a giveaway. It is a pretty good read. The characters are very relate able and the story was well written. I managed to read it in two days (possibly just because I just started my vacation), but it is not a book that is going to keep you on the edge of your seat with anticipation. There were some story lines that seemed to be underdeveloped (obviously it is a memoir and it wouldn't make sense to make stuff up)and could have used more description to I received an advanced copy of the book through a giveaway. It is a pretty good read. The characters are very relate able and the story was well written. I managed to read it in two days (possibly just because I just started my vacation), but it is not a book that is going to keep you on the edge of your seat with anticipation. There were some story lines that seemed to be underdeveloped (obviously it is a memoir and it wouldn't make sense to make stuff up)and could have used more description to add that extra something to the story. I would recommend it to others as a nice read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paula Washington

    Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-CityFuneral Home by Sheri Booker is truly "A Good Read"! It made me cry, laugh, and I even learned a lot about the funeral business. I highly recommend that you read this book as soon as possible. I wait patiently in anticipation for Sheri Booker's next book. Paula Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-CityFuneral Home by Sheri Booker is truly "A Good Read"! It made me cry, laugh, and I even learned a lot about the funeral business. I highly recommend that you read this book as soon as possible. I wait patiently in anticipation for Sheri Booker's next book. Paula Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bookher

    I loved every moment of this book. The narrator takes me through this mystic world that I would have never known otherwise. I laughed,and unlike the offer who learned to mask her tears, I cried. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking to learn what goes on behind-the-scenes in the funeral industry.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    Just okay - a bit jumbled and scattered, trying to cover details about the workings of a funeral home, the death rate in inner-city Baltimore, and her own coming of age. Booker sounds like a fun and thoughtful person.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brendan O'Meara

    Going to have Sheri on "Hashtag #CNF" soon to get her insights on this wonderful memoir about her nine years working at a funeral home in Baltimore.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wes

    Real, touching, and well written I found Sheri’s story to be so real, so touching, and very thoughtfully written. I appreciate her sharing this experience.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Len Knighton

    NINE YEARS UNDER Beautifully written. I lived in Baltimore for five years. I didn't experience the horrors that Booker described but I knew of their existence. The opening of Chapter 5 is a masterpiece created by a young woman with a genius for writing. I grew up in a small town in Lebanon County, PA and in thirty years of ministry served small town churches with the exception of my years in Baltimore. Very often, death was sanitary; a person lived to a ripe old age and died. The diseases of deat NINE YEARS UNDER Beautifully written. I lived in Baltimore for five years. I didn't experience the horrors that Booker described but I knew of their existence. The opening of Chapter 5 is a masterpiece created by a young woman with a genius for writing. I grew up in a small town in Lebanon County, PA and in thirty years of ministry served small town churches with the exception of my years in Baltimore. Very often, death was sanitary; a person lived to a ripe old age and died. The diseases of death put a blemish on the death (or is it the life?), but, for the most part, the circle of life was unbroken. On occasion there was what might be called a senseless death. One that changed my life and ministry was the death of a 16 year old from a traffic accident. But I certainly didn't deal with the deaths described by Sheri Booker in this book. It is an old cliche that death is a part of life. And whether one is old or young, healthy or sick, it is always untimely for someone. One can read other books about the business side of death and funerals; The American Way of Death comes to mind. Booker covers that well. But there is heart in her words, feelings that are not unique to her but pushed aside by many of us as Booker did for nine years. A good read. Booker reveals her vulnerability and struggles unashamedly. Five stars.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.