Wednesday, September 2, 2015
The Secret Wisdom Of The Earth by Christopher Scotton
Kevin is fourteen when he and his mother go to visit his grandfather in Medgar, Kentucky. They are reeling from a family tragedy. His three year old brother has been horribly killed in an accident in front of them. His father lashes out at Kevin, blaming him for the tragedy. His mother is just gone, lost somewhere in the mists of her mind. That leaves Kevin to handle his heartbreak and rejection himself.
But Medgar is a place where healing can happen. His grandfather is one of the town's leading citizens, a veterinarian who grew up and raised his family there. Kevin meets a friend, Buzzy Fink, and his acceptance and that of his grandfather starts to raise the gloom and guilt that has entrapped him. Soon Kevin is doing the things a teenager in Medgar does, fishing, camping out, accompanying his grandfather on his work trips.
Medgar is a poor place and mining has been the main economic engine. As the mines play out, the town dwindles and poverty is a very real thing there. Families all know each other and each other's families as most have lived there for decades. Now, a new kind of mining has come; one that rips the tops off of mountains to allow for mining from above. The fact that it destroys the mountains and forests and ruins the streams doesn't seem to count for much to the mine owners.
As the summer progresses, Kevin sees good and evil. A man is killed in town and the secret of who the murderer is affects he and Buzzy. In the story's climax, Kevin, Buzzy and his grandfather go on a camping trip miles back in the forest that will test every bit of grit they possess.
I've had this book for quite a while. It got wonderful buzz and I was hesitant to read it, fearing it wouldn't live up to its promise. I even got to meet and talk with the author at an event, finding him intelligent and charming. I was so pleased to read this and find that it was as wonderful as everyone had talked about. It had the same feel as To Kill A Mockingbird and it took the reader on a journey that explored both the physical landscape of rural Kentucky and the emotional landscape of a teenage boy finding his way to maturity after a horrific event. This will be one of my top books for 2015. This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction, those interested in environmental science and anyone interested in a wonderful read.