I can't believe I hesitated to order this book (It's not the genre I normally read), because this is, by far, one of the BEST books I have ever read. A powerful story of a family and community in a Pennsylvania mining town. Loved this author's style of writing so much that I went and ordered the two other novels she's written. Tawni O'Dell has you laughing, crying, and feeling as though you know each and every character personally. An awesome story. I couldn't put this one down!!!
A riveting novel of rural America and family tragedy. This takes place in the coal mining country of Western Pennsylania. In a town haunted by a deadly mine explosian 3 decades earlier, Ivan, the local
deputy and football legend, spends a week preparing for a former
teammate's release from prison. There is a rich cast of characters.
This is an absorbing novel about letting go of the goals of greatness
for the ordinary grace of hard work, family ties and an acceptance of
where you are from.
I loved this book!
O'Dell (Back Roads) explores the dynamics of a tiny Pennsylvania coal-mining town in her probing, heartbreaking second novel, which centers on the fortunes of former college football hero Ivan Zoschenko. The novel literally opens with a bang in a flashback that recalls the tragic underground explosion that took the life of Zoschenko's father and killed 96 other men from Coal Run. Some 15 years later, just after Zoschenko is drafted by the Chicago Bears, his knee is crushed in an accident in the same mines. His subsequent fall from grace is long and hard; he moves to Florida, hits the bars and works as an exterminator. He returns home only when he hears that Reese Raynor, a former schoolmate who beat his wife, Crystal, into a coma, is being released from prison. Despite his drinking problem, Zoschenko is hired as a deputy by the local sheriff, getting back in touch with his gorgeous sister, a single mom and career waitress; his boyhood hero, now a reclusive Vietnam vet; Reese's troubled twin brother, Jesse; and Crystal, who is still comatose and reminds Zoschenko of a shameful incident in his past. That past is linked to Reese Raynor's, and the novel builds to the inevitable brutal collision of the two men. O'Dell's portrait of Zoschenko is deep and penetrating, but even more moving is her portrayal of the coal-town community. Ravaged by disaster and callous corporate treatment, the citizens of Coal Run still can't imagine any other life. As Zoschenko puts it, "Long before [the mine] became the site of so much death, it had been a source of life for all of us. For me it was the closest thing I had to God." Though it occasionally flirts with sentimentality, this is a fierce, sharply drawn and richly sympathetic tribute to working-class America.
I've become a fan of Tawni O'Dell. Beautiful writing, wonderful and disturbing story, exceptional character development and terrific narration by Daniel Passer. Looking forward to reading Back Roads and Sister Mine. Highly recommend.
I enjoyed this one quite a bit - just as much as her first, _Back Roads_, I think. It was a more straightforward story in a lot of ways. The narrator wasn't quite as charming as Harley, but the whole cast of characters was richer than _Back Roads_. There were some overlapping descriptions of the area, but that probably wouldn't even be noticeable had I not read them back-to-back. Dr. Morrison's character was really the first character of hers that I didn't like all that much. She just sort of bothered me and didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense, really. Despite this, I really enjoyed this book and I will definitely keep an eye out for her future books!