From Publishers Weekly
A hard-living Appalachian family weathers a contemporary coal boom in the debut from West Virginia native Pancake. Soon after their first meeting in the 1980s, college freshman Lace See and 15-year-old local boy James Makepeace Turrell (Jimmy Make) conceive their first child. Nearly 20 years later, Lace is uneasily settled as a mother to Jimmy's four children as a flurry of strip mining and clear cutting make the mountains she has known since childhood unrecognizable. One summer right after a strip-mining induced flood, things come to a head. Lace's environmental activism ramps up; daughter Bant, working at a local motel, discovers her allegiance to the mountains and her sexuality; each of Lace and Jimmy's three sons (Corey, Jimmy and Dane) is touched in turn by the collapsing economy and environment. Lush descriptions of the landscape are matched with a hurtling stream-of-consciousness narration to great effect: one doubts neither the characters' voices nor their places in a very complex poverty. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* With her beloved West Virginia hollows and valleys under constant onslaught by a savage coal-mining industry whose raping of the land threatens her home with devastating floods, Lace Ricker finds herself battling callous forces both without and within her own family. As thunderous blasts weaken their home's foundation and poisoned wastewater infiltrates their well, Lace and her daughter, Bant, secretly become more determined to find a way to stop the mines, while Lace's husband pragmatically refuses to fight the union bosses, and her sons tentatively, then calamitously, accept the challenges and adventure of life lived in the shadow of imminent danger. By tracing the devastating impact of coal mining through the eyes of Lace and her four children, Pancake's powerful debut novel evinces a poetic pathos and authentic respect for the land and the people who love it. To comprehend the egregious and tragic environmental damage mountaintop-removal coal mining has wrought on the once pristine vistas of Appalachia, one should read any one of many excellent exposés. To understand the human toll such destruction exacts, one must turn to fiction, for novels such as Pancake's reflect deeper, timeless truths. Haggas, Carol