- Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Ivy Books (May 12, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 080410297X
- ISBN-13: 978-0804102971
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 76 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Storming Heaven Mass Market Paperback – May 12, 1988
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From Publishers Weekly
Four strong, entirely different voices evoke the passion and the pain of unionizing the coal mines of Kentucky and West Virginia in the early 20th century. The canvas is broad, the action complex but even minor characters quicken to life in this memorable, beautifully written novel. The inhabitants of the hills of Appalachia see their beloved land stolen by the coal companies; forced to work in the mines, they are cheated out of their pay. Families starve, die of malaria and dysentery and slowly, almost against their will, begin the fearsome job of fighting back. In 1921, an army of 10,000 workers marches on a single town. The coal companies, the police and finally the federal government close in; hundreds are killed and the man who masterminded the attack is shot. As fast paced and compulsively readable as a thriller, this novel never overlooks the gentler pleasure of living on the land, falling in love, raising a family. Stunning sensory images sear scenes on the mind's eye. Giardina (Good King Harry has written one of those rare books that portrays a small world with impeccable clarity while telling an exciting story in vigorous, elegant prose.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
YA This well-written novel is an earnest recreation of the turbulent events in the West Virginia coal fields during the early decades of this century. The ties of the people to land and family are the book's soul, and their violent confrontations with those who took their land and tried to take their dignity are its body. Because it is well into the story before the lives of most of the characters intersect and because the book builds to a climax of bloody repression of a strike, this may not have universal appeal to young adults. But those who reach at least as far as the black union organizer's fiery death in a company furnace are likely to finish and appreciate this tale of injustice met by bravery. Mike Parsons, Houston Public Library
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Denise Giardina tells this important story effectively through four first person perspectives, in their own language. The perspective of a Sicilian immigrant is hard to follow and doesn’t add much to the reader’s understanding of the complex relationships among the characters. That would warrant dropping my rating to four stars except that the other three characters and several additional characters are so well developed.
It’s a great, but sad, story. And Giardina has told the story very well.
The writing is okay--most of the characters have believable motivations and so forth, the geography is spot-on (I'm from near a lot of the locations mentioned---my grandma lived in Jenkinjones for a long time, for example) which was fun for me. The blase attitude toward interracial marriage seemed a little unrealistic to the era--I know that it wasn't *quite* as bad in the coalfields as the rest of the country, but it still wasn't a non-issue as it is mostly depicted here.But again, not terribly accurate to the more action-centered parts of the history of the labor riots/mine wars of the early 20s.
Your enjoyment of this novel will depend heavily on your expectations/what you want from it. If you want a fictionalized history of one of the least-talked about parts of American history....maybe keep moving. If you want a sweeping Appalachian romance/drama written from several perspectives, then you'll probably dig it.
This book is the story of those people and the struggles they had with the coal companies and the bosses' government. It is told not historically but in the voice of four different people who are not just examples for history but real people struggling for love, to fit into or get away from their families, and who learning about life.
This is a good read, a page turner that does not need to be melodramatic because the lives of its characters have such real drama.
I enjoyed the way the author tried to inhabit the voice of her characters by having them (with the exception of her Italian character) speak in the language that they would have used. However, I am familiar with that language from people in my family as well as having spent years studying Appalachian folk music. I am not sure how someone not familiar with these varients of English would have found this novel.
I live in Florida, but I am in touch with people in the coal fields. Old mines are being reopened in the Appalachians due to the high price of oil and the cheapness of coal. Mining companies are being set up with the same greed that powered the exploiters described in this novel, often with a get rich at any cost while the oil prices are high approach. There are expanding battles coal miners are facing in the Western coal fields in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming that are now the center of the expansion of the mining industry. Battles are taking place in the West where the new militancy of immigrant workers especially from Mexico has given strength to the UMWA.
Moreover, people in coal areas of Appalachian and no doubt the West, are facing ecological disasters--floods, ruined water, higher risks for cancer and other diseases--as a result of the rapacious way mining was and is being done.
And every year more miners are being killed, more miners are being injured, as safety is disregarded. Unionization a life and death question for miners and their families. Fewer accidents and death take place in mines where the union mobilizes miners to defend their rights to safety and health.
Of course, in a larger sense, all working folks and farmers are up against the same greedy capitalism we see in this novel. We've got no other solution but to get together and realize that we are in a war with the big business system, with the politicians in the Democrat and Republican party supported by that, and we need to follow the example of the fighting miners we read about in Storming Heaven.
After saying all these things about the social and political questions, I want to emphasize that this book sensitively describes the lives of real people, not just in the face of the mines and the struggle but in the real ways we all reach out for love and identity.
This is one where you really feel bad that the book ends. I hope Denise Giardina and other children of the mountains have more like this.