Sometimes a book completely sweeps me up in the most unexpected way. I feel like I’m falling into it, like Mary Poppins in a chalk drawing, and I am immune to all distraction. I hear the characters talking, I smell the same things they smell, feel the same things they feel. How or why it happens when it does, I have no idea. But when I started reading Secret Wisdom of the Earth, I felt myself falling into it immediately.
Told in absolute beautiful prose, Secret Wisdom of the Earth is a story about struggle. The struggle to move forward, the struggle to hold on. The struggle between what is right, what is wrong, and what is good. With characters you will grow to love (and hate), and story lines that are so relatable and real, Secret Wisdom of the Earth is a book for every generation.
After witnessing the death of his younger brother in a terrible accident, fourteen-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent to Kentucky to spend the summer with Kevin’s grandfather. Small, quaint, and stuck in its ways, the old coal town in Medgar, Kentucky lies deep in Appalachia. Coming from the city, this environment is new to Kevin, and he quickly falls into step with a wild and confident kid named Buzzy Fink. Buzzy and Kevin become fast friends and together explore the magnificence of the backcountry woods.
Meanwhile, beset by a massive mountaintop removal project that is blowing up the back hills of Medgar, Kevin’s grandfather and a few colorful locals attempt to rally against “the company” and its powerful owner to stop the plundering of their ancient heritage and homeland. And when Buzzy and Kevin join forces with Kevin’s grandfather, the events of this fateful summer forever affect the town and everyone in it.
Up there with some of the best books I’ve read this year, Secret Wisdom of the Earth had me laughing in one chapter and crying in the next. It was such a true depiction of grief, friendship, prejudice, loyalty, and love told in such simple and beautiful language. With characters and prose reminiscent of Catcher in the Rye, A Separate Peace, and To Kill a Mockingbird, Secret Wisdom of the Earth is a coming-of-age story about the very complicated and tumultuous relationship humans have with protecting their homeland and those they love.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.