I went into this book not expecting much and got what I expected. I found this to be a hot mess. You can't just slap the word "environmentalism" on a book and assume that wipes out all its flaws. It just isn't a good book. It didn't bore me but it wasn't good and I just about rolled my eyes out of my head at the absurdity of it.
The premise is that A.J. Palladino left her home in West Virginia, the coal-mining community of Scotia, years ago when she was 17 under a cloud of disgrace. She has since then become an environmental activist with a disabled son. She had some successes but is now out of work and a lawyer in Scotia offers her a job to help with his case against the big coal mining company in the area which is removing the tops of mountains to get at coal more cheaply. It just so happens, of course, that the son of the owner of this mining company is also the father of her son. She comes back to town, has run-ins with everyone including her parents and finds the lawyer who hired her has been murdered. Fortunately, the lawyer's daughter, who is also a lawyer, is in town and decides to stay and finish the case her father started.
The book is full of stereotypical characters and shallow plot lines. A.J. brings her son, who is twelve or so, to her hometown and immediately introduces him to his father who is married to someone else. No build up, just bam, instant love between father and son. The people that run the coal mine are evil to the core with no redeeming qualities and the good guys are shining lights of humanity. The handicapped son is smarter and more heroic than all the adults put together. The coal miners come across as terrible people just for needing to put food on the table for their children. There's no depth or subtlety. There are black and white cardboard figures and through all of it, you are being pounded on the head with the hammer of "environmentalism." I don't read mysteries to have my head bashed in.
I read this because our library discussion group is going to discuss this next month. I'm very interested to hear what the other readers thought of it.