"We walk on fire or air, so Daddy liked to say. Basement floors too hot to touch. Steaming green lawns in the dead of winter. Sinkholes, quick and sudden, plunging open at your feet."
The underground mine fires ravaging Pennsylvania coal country have forced eleven-year-old Brigid Howley and her family to seek refuge with her estranged grandparents, the formidable Gram and the black lung‒stricken Gramp. Tragedy is no stranger to the Howleys, a proud Irish-American clan who takes strange pleasure in the “curse” laid upon them generations earlier by a priest who ran afoul of the Molly Maguires. The weight of this legacy rests heavily on a new generation, when Brigid, already struggling to keep her family together, makes a grisly discovery in a long-abandoned bootleg mine shaft. In the aftermath, decades-old secrets threaten to prove just as dangerous to the Howleys as the burning, hollow ground beneath their feet.
Inspired by real-life events in Centralia and Carbondale, where devastating coal mine fires irrevocably changed the lives of residents, The Hollow Ground is an extraordinary debut with an atmospheric, voice-driven narrative and an indelible sense of place. Lovers of literary fiction will find in Harnett’s young, determined protagonist a character as heartbreakingly captivating as Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.
This book was a heartwarming and tragically uplifting book. I really enjoyed the depth of this story and how it really draws you into the world of mining and the after effects of mining tragedies.
What I love most is that the story does not start out with a big accident in a mine, but takes place after that has happened. The setting of this story revolves around the old mines burning and families being forced from their homes. These events slowly lead to other changes and heartbreaks in their lives and really it shows how you just don’t know the truth about some people and you should never believe that everything is as it seems.
The strength of the main character Brigid is amazing for a girl her age, she has to deal with a family that has many problems and wants to blame all of their bad luck on a curse. Eventually things start to move forward for the family, only to be brought back down again. This book is reality, with ups and downs, but still a very good story and one I would recommend to anyone interested in a classic character driven story.
My Rating of The Hollow Ground
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