Redemption Mountain by Gerry FitzGerald
Holt • $27 • ISBN 9780805094893
published June 2013


firstficV4finalHaving grown up in East Tennessee, I am skeptical of novels that portray mountain dialects in the dialogue. Gerry FitzGerald did not let me down in his beautifully written novel Redemption Mountain. This novel contains authentic-sounding dialogue from its cast of characters living in the small coal town of Red Bone, West Virginia. FitzGerald is not afraid to make his characters flawed, and the result is a town of real people with imperfections that will make readers rage, cry and love each one.

Charlie Burden leaves Manhattan to oversee his company's mountain-top removal construction site. Though in need of the escape from his corporate meetings and country-club wife, Charlie is not prepared for the people of Red Bone.

Meanwhile, Natty Oakes is trapped in an abusive marriage to her high school sweetheart. Natty's family farm is in the path of the mountain-top removal coal-mining, and Charlie will be facing some hard decisions as the people of Red Bone begin showing him the love and strength to be found on Redemption Mountain.

 But the farm was also the source of Natty's greatest sadness, and she couldn't walk through the house or the barn or the fields or sit on the porch for very long without thinking of Annie. Twenty-three years later she could still hear her voice, and feel her downy cheeks, and see her running across the dirt yard with her arms upraised, the sign for Natty to hold her.

The melancholy of old memories was supplanted by the unbridled joy the children experienced at the farm, and Natty enjoyed sharing their excitement as they explored the world of her childhood. After the obligatory hugs and a suitable interval of fawning by their grandmother and great-grandparents, Pie would always beg for his release to run off with Uncle Pete to drive the old tractor around the farm. Cat, after a hand-in-hand walking tour with Great-grandmother Alice to see the newest piglets, would invariably sneak off the the warm floor of the sunroom, surrounded by the tattered yellowing picture books from Sarah's library. She could sit for hours, cross-legged, reading the stories out loud to herself, just as her mother had done with the same books many years earlier.

What are you reading this week?

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