What I’m Reading: Coal River

I’ve recently listened to several books by Ellen Marie Wiseman.  I saw that there was one I hadn’t listened to Coal River so I checked Audible and used a credit to get it.  I’ve liked the other selections the author has done so was sure I would like this as well.

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If you’ve listened to audio books, you know that sometimes the reader is so amazing…if fact so good that the reader actually makes the book better than it is.  Well sadly sometimes the reader has the opposite effect and does nothing for the book, or even makes it not so good.  Well this time around, I didn’t like the reader at all.  The reading was clinical and slow.  Words were over enunciated.  It was not good so I am going to recommend that this book be taken in as a hard copy and not audio selection as I liked the story…the reader, not so much.

Here’s what Amazon had to say:“In this vibrant new historical novel, the acclaimed author of The Plum Tree and What She Left Behind explores one young woman’s determination to put an end to child labor in a Pennsylvania mining town. . .

As a child, Emma Malloy left isolated Coal River, Pennsylvania, vowing never to return. Now, orphaned and penniless at nineteen, she accepts a train ticket from her aunt and uncle and travels back to the rough-hewn community. Treated like a servant by her relatives, Emma works for free in the company store. There, miners and their impoverished families must pay inflated prices for food, clothing, and tools, while those who owe money are turned away to starve. 

Most heartrending of all are the breaker boys Emma sees around the village–young children who toil all day sorting coal amid treacherous machinery. Their soot-stained faces remind Emma of the little brother she lost long ago, and she begins leaving stolen food on families’ doorsteps, and marking the miners’ bills as paid. 

Though Emma’s actions draw ire from the mine owner and police captain, they lead to an alliance with a charismatic miner who offers to help her expose the truth. And as the lines blur between what is legal and what is just, Emma must risk everything to follow her conscience. 

An emotional, compelling novel that rings with authenticity–Coal River is a deft and honest portrait of resilience in the face of hardship, and of the simple acts of courage that can change everything.”

Amazon readers gave the book 4.3 stars.  I’m going to say 3.9.  I really blame the love rating on the narrator.  Read one of the authors other books instead.  Those are some of my favorites.  I’m guessing this was an early book in her writing career.

I love stories about the push to unite coal miners so they could get decent wages and decent working conditions.  I was sure I was going to love the book but as I said the narrator wasn’t the best and the story a bit cheesy.  Not terrible.

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