The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton
Since I read the book Christy by Katherine Marshall as a teen I have been fascinated with the culture of the Appalachian mountain region. I only have to read that this is the setting of a story and I’m on board with it. It’s double good luck when the book is a good one. This is a really good one.
After witnessing a horrific accident at their home in Indiana, young teen Kevin and his mother travel back to a her home, in a coal town deep in Appalachia to heal, if that would be possible. This town is no Mitford, the problems here are large. The coal companies have taken to blowing the tops off the mountains to get to the coal easier and cheaper. This is devastating to the environment and the town is torn between selling out to the coal company for the money or fighting.
Kevin’s grandfather is a wise man. He is calm and wise in helping Kevin face his demons, and in letting Kevin’s mother, his daughter, grieve. He is also well respected in the town and a force behind the opposition to the coal company.
Kevin befriends Buzzy Fink and through and with Buzzy, Kevin gets to know and love the area he is living in, understands what the coal company is doing and what it means and importantly, he starts to heal. Until horror again visits his life and he must take the step to becoming a man. Quickly.
The story is told by adult Kevin looking back on this summer and understanding what time and distance can show us. This was really, really, really a good read. I recommend it highly. Highly.