Published by Grand Central Publishing on January 6th 2015
Genres: Coming of Age, Family Life, Fiction
eARC provided by Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley
After witnessing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, 14-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin's grandfather. In this peeled-paint coal town deep in Appalachia, Kevin quickly falls in with a half-wild hollow kid named Buzzy Fink who schools him in the mysteries and magnificence of the woods. The events of this fateful summer will affect the entire town of Medgar, Kentucky.
Medgar is beset by a massive Mountaintop Removal operation that is blowing up the hills and back filling the hollows. Kevin's grandfather and others in town attempt to rally the citizens against the 'company' and its powerful owner to stop the plunder of their mountain heritage. When Buzzy witnesses the brutal murder of the opposition leader, a sequence is set in play which tests Buzzy and Kevin to their absolute limits in an epic struggle for survival in the Kentucky mountains.
Redemptive and emotionally resonant, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is narrated by an adult Kevin looking back on the summer when he sloughed the coverings of a boy and took his first faltering steps as a man among a rich cast of characters and an ambitious effort to reclaim a once great community.
This was about as real as a story can get. The Secret Wisdom of the Earth featured small town prejudices, old family rules, tragedy, and the losing/finding of oneself. This book was very engrossing and encompassed every thing I love about a good book.
I have to admit that the beginning started kind of slow. Written by a male, the writing reflects a bit of the technical aspects of a boy in his youth. I kept reading because I enjoyed the slow build up. I really felt like I got to know the characters and the town of Merger enough to picture myself there. By chapter two I could understand that this book didn’t need the feminine style of writing to draw emotion out of me. The characters have so much depth it is almost written as if it was a memoir. A real person can feel like this, can remember like this. The story builds up to an adventure that changes the lives of the characters, and indeed the whole town, involved.
This is an epic coming of age that I easily see becoming a movie. I spent two hours after reading this book crying inconsolably. I don’t think that the book was meant to draw that kind of emotion. I just grew so attached to the characters that I wept even harder knowing the story was actually over. I can’t go back now and feign ignorance of their fate. I want to very badly. These characters have become like my own kin, and I wish I could turn back the clock and move to Medger to be close to them.
It is hard to believe this was a debut novel! Does this author understand how absolutely profound this story is? This book was one of the best stories I have ever read, and an experience for me that I will not soon forget.
About the Author
Christopher Scotton has been a carpenter, bouncer, kite flyer, amusement park ride operator, venture capitalist and CEO of several technology companies. After a successful career in technology, he moved to London to run the European operations of a technology publishing and tradeshow company.
While in London, he began work on his first novel, rising at 5:00 a.m. each morning and writing in the quiet hours before work, then revising and editing in the evenings after putting his young sons to bed. In 2001, he and his partners sold the company and he returned to the United States, putting his writing ambitions on hold to start a company in the nascent search engine marketplace.
In 2007, he joined a venture capital firm where he invested in and nurtured numerous early-stage technology companies. He also took up his unfinished first novel and began writing again, in the mornings before work, on trains, in airports–anywhere he could steal a few minutes of mental quiet. In 2011 he finished the novel and joined one of the venture capital firm’s portfolio companies as President and CEO, a position he holds today.