by Amy Allgeyer
Reviewed by SA
I didn’t know what to expect from this book when I picked it up, but i was quickly thrown into a world of corruption and lies that was impossible to put down. I was thrilled to find a fantastic YA with compelling characters and an engrossing plot. Just how much corruption can a community take?
With her mother facing prison time for a violent political protest, seventeen-year-old Liberty Briscoe has no choice but to leave her Washington, DC, apartment and take a bus to Ebbottsville, Kentucky, to live with her granny. There she can finish high school and put some distance between herself and her mother– her ‘former’ mother, as she calls her. But Ebbottsville isn’t the same as Liberty remembers, and it’s not just because the top of Tanner’s Peak has been blown away to mine for coal. Half the county is out of work, an awful lot of people in town seem to be sick, and the tap water is bright orange–the same water that officials claim is safe to drink. When Granny’s lingering cold turns out to be something much worse, Liberty is convinced the mine is to blame, and starts an investigation that quickly plunges her into a world of secrets, lies, threats, and danger. Liberty isn’t deterred by any of it, but as all her searches turn into dead ends, she comes to a difficult decision: turn to violence like her former mother or give up her quest for good.
Liberty returns to rural Kentucky to live with her grandmother, pushing thoughts of her absent mother out of her mind. But it’s not too long until she realizes that something is amiss with the town of her childhood: her grandmother is sick, though she won’t admit it, and half of the mountain is just missing, replaced by trucks and drills and a large pool of weird looking water. That same water which seems to be running through the pipes in her home: is is possible that the water has something to do with her grandmother’s illness?
Our protagonist is smart, and she’s determined: her grandmother’s life is on the line, for goodness sake! Interestingly enough, it’s Granny who quickly became my favorite character: plucky and vivacious, she won’t let anything get her down. She’s a force of nature: albeit a small, frail one. I loved granny so much, with her wit, with her determination, she reminded me so much of some of my own relatives.
The characters had depth and a real personality. Admittedly, I didn’t like Cole from the start, but I quickly came around to Dobber, a young man you wouldn’t expect to be so smart and compelling. It was interesting how Liberty’s first impressions were both spot on and completely off, though I won’t spoil any of that for you.
While some events a found a little unrealistic, I was deeply engrossed with the main plot. It reminded me at times of a teenage Erin Brockovich, though admittedly Liberty has much less power and credibility. That’s why I wasn’t so taken in by the ending: It didn’t seem all that plausible to me, even if it was a great fit. In any case, i enjoyed the book from start to finish.
If you want a book with spunk, and a determined teenager trying to fight for justice in a place where her voice is ignored, then this is just the book for you. It will be published onApril 1st 2016 by Albert Whitman.