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The Miner's Daughter Hardcover – February 6, 2007


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (February 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416912622
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416912620
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,572,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—Willa Laura Lowell is a 16-year-old miner's daughter ushering in the Depression in a West Virginia coal miner's camp. The days are long and hard, but worse when the mine shuts down. There is no money, forcing Willa's father and older brother to look for work elsewhere. Left alone with her mother and three younger siblings, Willa helps as she can and dreams of a better life. Life changes dramatically for her and her family when they are offered a place in a new town. The teen never loses sight of where she came from and is determined to help others as she was helped. Richly drawn characters and plot make this an excellent novel that explores the struggles endured by many in America in the 1930s. The integrity of the characters and their resourcefulness show readers how, with hard work and determination, adversity can be overcome.—Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Willa has always lived in a tiny West Virginia coal town, where meager food, patched clothes, and hard work are the routine, but when the Depression causes the mines to close, her large family is left with nothing. She poses as a boy to find a job, while her father and brother join a crew doing very dangerous work. Willa's solace comes from Miss Grace, a missionary who opens a library where Willa can indulge her love of reading, and from Johnny, her new beau. Willa's older brother firmly believes that newly elected Franklin Roosevelt will fix things. Indeed, the family becomes part of Arthurdale, the New Deal community, but its good fortune is at the expense of those left behind for not being white or native-born. This bittersweet historical novel may be standard fare, but it has enough emotional resonance thanks to strong Willa, whose compassion, resolve, and literary ability make her a voice of change. Life during the time is convincingly portrayed, and readers will never doubt that Willa and her family are part of it. Krista Hutley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Offers of education and opportunity make her choice even more difficult.
Deborah
Gretchen Moran Laskas's The Miner's Daughter is a haunting story of poverty set in a Depression-era mining town in West Virginia.
Bundtlust
She never gives up and shines with strength throughout the story to the very last page.
TeensReadToo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on February 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In this tenderly crafted novel, Willa is a struggling sixteen-year-old girl living during the hard times of The Great Depression. All of her life, Willa has lived in a mining camp where her father and older brother work as coal miners. As economic conditions worsen and the coal mine shuts down, Willa's father and brother leave home to find a new job. This leaves Willa responsible to take care of her younger siblings, her weakened mother, and the numerous household chores.

When Miss Grace, a missionary, arrives in town, Willa is about to experience some exciting new changes. With her best friend, Roselia, they read through Miss Grace's vast collection of books and fantasize about life. But when Willa's father becomes extremely ill and Willa has a rare chance to escape the mining camp, there are some big decisions Willa has to make.

This novel was purely amazing and I read it in one sitting. Willa is one of the strongest fictional female characters I know. She never gives up and shines with strength throughout the story to the very last page. With her, THE MINER'S DAUGHTER is a perfect combination of family, friendship, and romance all set during the harshness of The Great Depression. I would recommend this book to all girls going through tough times...it inspired me thoroughly.

Reviewed by: Safia Abdul
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bundtlust TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Gretchen Moran Laskas's The Miner's Daughter is a haunting story of poverty set in a Depression-era mining town in West Virginia. Willa Lowell and her large, loving family are trapped in a mining ghost town with no chance for work, meaning no food other than meager rations of soup beans and thin cornbread. Willa's mother has just completed a difficult, dangerous pregnancy, and as the eldest daughter, Willa is responsible for household chores and for watching the other children while her mother recovers.

The other mining families are just as hard-hit by the Depression, especially those who are foreign-born like the Olivettis, immigrants from Italy. Willa is sensitive and intelligent, and loves to read, so when a missionary comes offering a large library of pristine books, Willa devours them in-between chores, beginning with classics such as Little Women and working her way into more difficult poetry by Poe and Whitman.

When Willa's father and half-brother Ves leave to search for work at Hawk's Nest, Willa is left to hold down the precarious fort. As her mother's too weak to work, and the next-oldest is only ten years old, Willa must masquerade as a boy in order to pick in the fields; otherwise, the family would starve. She meets Johnny Settle, a boy around her own age who is smitten by her intelligence and courage, and the two begin a bashful courtship.

The remainder of the novel chronicles Roosevelt's projects as part of the New Deal, including a personal visit to the Riley Mines by Mrs. Roosevelt that has a huge impact on the Lowells' lives. The author includes brief notes as to actual New Deal settlements created by the Roosevelts, as well as several websites that give further information about real places and events in the story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on June 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Willa Lowell is a 16-year-old girl living the harsh realities of a Depression-era mining camp. She has always lived a hardscrabble existence with only one dress to wear, little food to eat, and a house so poorly insulated that the family stuffs their mattresses with newspaper to help keep warm in the winter. But things become more difficult when the mines shut down and her father and brother must look for work elsewhere, leaving Willa behind to care for a sickly mother and three younger siblings.

THE MINER'S DAUGHTER is a testament to the ordinary lives people build despite impossible circumstances. Most of the book deals with the emotional ties Willa has with her family and various members of her community, whether it's her best friend Roselia, an Italian immigrant, or Miss Grace, the missionary who introduces Willa to poetry. These relationships are somewhat idealized, the author only occasionally referring to the impact poverty has on human relationships. There is subtle discussion of families breaking up in search of work or under the pressure of too many mouths to feed. There is mention of the competitiveness and jealousy between neighbors all fighting to find work, but these conflicts don't enter much into the plot.

Instead, Willa and her family are lifted out of their poverty by Roosevelt's New Deal when they are chosen as one of the families for Arthurdale, an experimental community designed to alleviate rural poverty by forming planned communities based around skilled laborers. Willa's family qualifies because they are white, non-immigrant Protestants, and Willa's father has experience woodworking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Deborah on February 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Pour yourself a cup of tea and spend an evening viewing a Depression-era mining camp through sixteen-year-old Willa Lowell's eyes. When the story opens, Willia worries about the health of her ailing, pregnant mother while dealing with the difficult task of feeding and caring for her family. A difficult childbirth threatens Mama's life, but Willa's strength and hard work helps this close-knit family pull through a hard winter. An African-American midwife, Granny Maylie, is the only person who comes to Mama's aid when the company doctor turns his back. When the mine closes, Daddy and older brother Ves go south to look for work while Willa helps Mama care for three younger siblings. The arrival of Miss Grace, a missionary, opens Willa's eyes to the beauty of books and education. Willa, along with her Italian-American friend Roselia, visit Miss Grace's home in a larger town. For the first time, Willa realizes not every family lives in poverty. Conversations with her older brother, Ves, add to her confusion as he opens her eyes to politics and the unions.

Willa disguises herself as a boy to pick vegetables as a farm worker. Her budding romance with her brother's friend, Johnny, is overshadowed when her father returns home, sick with a lung infection. Miss Grace brings a visitor, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, to visit the Lowells. This visit results in an offer for the family to move to one of Roosevelt's New Deal towns, Arthurdale. Willa must choose between marrying Johnny, or staying with her family. Offers of education and opportunity make her choice even more difficult.

The quiet strength of this book lies in its vivid and detailed descriptions of life in the mining camp, and in its deftly-characterized picture of an affectionate and tightly-knit family.
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