The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotten


This is a book that I read last year and enjoyed so much I recommended it to my book group.  It is Christopher Scotten’s debut novel.  The book takes place in a down and out coal mining town in Appalachia where Kevin and his mother have gone to live with Kevin’s grandfather after the horrific death of Kevin’s younger brother.  Before returning to Indiana, Kevin’s father has made enough comments that indicate he thinks Kevin is responsible  for his brother’s death.  His mother can barely function, and it is hoped that the new setting will be restorative.  Kevin makes friends with a boy named Buzzy and they spend their days exploring the mountain.  The town is struggling to stay alive and the man who ran the town has now made millions and is wanting to remove the mountain top for coal.  This sets up a struggle between him and members of the community including Kevin’s Grandfather and a gay man in the town.  During the book Kevin and Buzzy are exposed to the sadder adult side of the world.  This book has a lot in it.  It’s a great coming of age story, and I loved the relationship between Kevin and his Grandfather.  It is a story of greed and destruction of the environment, and portrays the conflict of some who are just caught because they need a livelihood even if it’s causing damage.  There also other social issues such as discrimination portrayed.  This superbly and beautifully written novel is both heart-warming as well as heart-wrenching.  You’ll find yourself engrossed.  I’m looking forward to reading any future books this author publishes.  It is a great book for book discussions.


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