Dig Too Deep by Amy Allgeyer

What happens when you dig too deep? Both into the ground and into secrets?

Amy Allgeyer’s book Dig Too Deep revolves around Liberty whose life has been upturned when her mother goes to prison, and she has to move from DC to Ebbotsville in rural Appalachia to live with her grandmother. Her singular focus now, forgetting her life before and getting straight A’s. 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. And when her grandmother’s seemingly lingering cold turns out to be more, Liberty starts to question if somebody at the mine is hiding the truth about the water.

But whenever Liberty tries to ask questions, she’s told to stay out of other’s business. Yet, she can’t let it alone, not with her only family left —notwithstanding her former mother, as she calls her— getting sicker and sicker. And so she begins to dig and find answers and more questions and secrets that maybe could put her life in jeopardy. Her searches for answers and justice lead to even tougher questions—should she turn to violence and end up like her mother? Give up her quest for the sake of keeping the peace? Or keep fighting until the mine is shut down for good?

Allgeyer’s ability to create this singular sense of place on the page makes you experience the stark and lush parts of rural Appalachia all at once. The way Allgeyer writes characters leaves you unprepared for how they burrow into your heart. You root for the characters as they wade through corruption and love and trust and forgiveness. Even Allgeyer’s secondary characters experience glorious character arcs that are important and interconnected and tightly woven into this feverish plot. 

Overall, Allgeyer created a tense and riveting read, with characters so rich that they stay with you once the book is finished. Liberty, in particular, the main character, is utterly amazing and yet not perfect — flawed in a completely human way. Her love for her grandmother, her indignation as to what she sees around her, her anger toward her mother: they read true and authentic. The book is filled with the power of simple moments. It pulses with ageless wisdom as well as heartbreak. It is a story of advocacy and making peace with your roots, your family. It is a story of fighting for what you believe in. Fighting for the natural beauty that our world affords. 

And if you’re still not convinced, with this book Allgeyer won the 2017 Green Earth Book Award for Young Adult Fiction and the 2017 Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award (SONWA)for Young Adult Notable Book

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Fire Flight by John J. Nance

Fire Flight by John J Nance is an action-packed, riveting tale revolving around veteran pilot Clark Maxwell. He is called back into duty when two global-warming induced forest fires threaten to destroy Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park and thousands of homes.

It is the peak of the fire season, and the wildfires are spreading with no indication of stopping, despite the fire fighter’s best efforts. Amidst said efforts, though, Maxwell starts to notice many things going wrong. He claims that the air tankers being used are faulty and should’ve been grounded years ago. Some of the planes are even falling apart mid-air, leading to numerous lives being lost. 

Maxwell’s investigation into these unexplained incidents takes him to the highest levels of the government while unraveling the mystery along the way. In doing this, he is able to prevent a natural disaster of gargantuan proportions. 

Alongside this action-packed plot, there is plenty of romance, ensuring a light and engaging read. The book is written with great authenticity that only a veteran pilot could provide, and we highly recommend you read this book. 

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World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler

World Made by Hand is a dystopian novel by American author James Howard Kunstler, published in 2008. Set in the fictional town of Union Grove, New York, the novel follows a cast of characters as they navigate a world stripped of its modern comforts, ravaged by terrorism, epidemics, and the economic upheaval of peak oil, all of which are exacerbated by global warming.

Narrated by Robert Earle, a local carpenter who has lost his wife and son, the novel focuses on four separate “cultures” that represent the directions society could go after a breakdown of modern social norms. The government has disintegrated and the lights have flickered out. Kunstler only alludes to the cause, which seems to be an amalgam of climate change and global battles over resources (mainly oil). Parts of the country are as lawless and grim but other areas, like Union Grove, NY, are rustic and communal. World Made by Hand explores the tension between these two elements, where the water is clean, the fish are huge, and they all farm but gangs of former motorheads mine the town dump and strip abandoned buildings for their aluminium window frames. 

It is jarring however as Kunstler depicts a collapsed world whereby the 2020s the engines of commerce have grounded to a shuddering halt, the arm of the state has withered into oblivion, and the electric lights of modern civilization petered out, ushering in a new Dark Age, both literally and metaphorically. This depiction of then (2008) near future and today’s present really shocks you and makes you consider what daily life would be like if our current world went “offline.” The best, and in some ways worst, part of this book would be its plausibility particularly as Kunstler acknowledges that there would be both benefits and drawbacks to such a life. The future depicted in this world is wholly plausible as he describes world oil supplies running out, something that scientists predict to be an inevitability in the near future.

All in all, this is a great post-apocalypse story and it doesn’t even have plague zombies or giant radioactive roaches. It does have a remarkably detailed and frighteningly plausible setting coupled with well-rounded, believable characters and a plot engine – the effort of people to create law and sanctions in a lawless world.

Book review and summary links:

Check out how governments can help reverse climate change- https://easierreadthandone887945191.wordpress.com/2020/11/06/how-governments-can-help-reverse-climate-change/

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Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Samantha Kofer, 29 Columbia Law graduate is a third-year associate at a reputed, New-York based law firm, Lehman Brothers. She is doing well at her desk job, however, she is laid off soon at the start of the novel in the light of the recession. There is a sliver of hope for her, though. If she works pro bono in a location with people who need her services, now more so than ever, she can retain her healthcare benefits and will also have a chance of returning to her original job.

Samantha hence finds herself at the Mountain Legal Aid Clinic in Brady, Vancouver, in the heart of Appalachia. This sudden change from a comfortable, privileged life to dealing with real-world problems is jarring for the protagonist as well as the readers. The first case Samantha’s boss, Mattie Wyatt, assigns to her is that of a woman seeking protection from her husband who deals methamphetamine and beats her. After this, she encounters her first black-lung case. If miners prove that their respiratory health has been compromised by years of working in mines, they are entitled to a steady income every month. However, the odds are stacked against them because Big Coal hires hundreds of lawyers to delay the cases of thousands of their ex-employees. This doesn’t dissuade Samantha from taking it upon herself to fight for her client, who was dying due to lung disease.

Grisham highlights this case throughout the novel, alongside that of Donovan Gray’s. Gray was the nephew of Mattie, and he was fighting multiple cases against Big Coal. One was that of a bulldozer dislodging a rock from a mountaintop resulting in the death of two young boys. The Bulldozer belonged to Big Coal, and it was clearing land in order to build a mine. Another case Grisham highlights is that of the chemical waste dumped into water bodies by Big Coal during strip mining. Chemicals dumped into the primary water source of a small town near Brady resulted in that region having one of the highest cancer rates in America.

Grisham vividly describes not only the legal aspects of mining, but the environmental damage that it can have throughout the book through realistic characters. This gives the readers something to think about, even though the book is meant to be a legal thriller. 

Check out the environmental effects of mining – https://easierreadthandone887945191.wordpress.com/2020/10/23/the-environmental-effects-of-mining/

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A Friend of The Earth by T.C. Boyle

Most dystopian fiction authors choose a setting hundreds of years in the future, where a reader can reasonably imagine the horrors and bleakness described, yet remaining at a safe enough distance to ponder its plausibility. But T.C. Boyle’s A Friend of The Earth (published in 2000) is different – it is urgent and relevant – perhaps because we are but five years away from its predictions. 

The past half century has been a time of upheaval, and the novel captures this in its shifting perspective. At times, we watch our hero Tyrone struggle to make a living at the age of 75 in a world ravaged by late-stage capitalism, and at others, we witness his daring acts of protest against climate change in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Reading the novel is like staring into a maw, with our own failures as a species staring right back. Much as we witness unmitigated greed tear Ty’s world apart, we see our own ecosystems ravaged by corporate interest and ignorance, with little to stop them. Thus it is unsurprising to see Tyrone, a member of the oft-reviled Baby Boomer generation, be radicalized into eco-terrorism. But it is during Ty’s work with the revolutionary “Earth Forever!” activist group that the reader sees a glimmer of inspiration; Ty and those around him perform selfless acts of  protest, from living on bare essentials in the wilderness over a 30 day span, to living in the trunk of a redwood tree for 3 years to prevent its felling.

But during Tyrone’s work on an animal conservation farm in 2025, the reader must ask themselves whether his acts were in vain. He is far from at peace with himself, and still is fighting against what may seem like a forgone conclusion. The floods have already washed over, the endangered animals long since extinct, and the famines never ending. But there is still hope to be found in Boyle’s story, with an ending focused on reunion and a slight chance of redemption for humanity.

It may seem disheartening that Boyle published this book in the year 2000, with such a drastic and bleak foretelling of a future just 25 years in the making. And although all his predictions may still seem outlandish and far away, we are inching closer every minute. In a world of science deniers and mega corporations of greed, the story of Tyrone O’Shaughnessy Tierwater shows that often “to be a friend of the earth you have to be an enemy of the people.”

– Written by Viren Chainani

Check out how to reduce your carbon footprint and help fight climate change- https://easierreadthandone887945191.wordpress.com/2020/10/09/reduce-your-carbon-footprint-and-contribution-to-global-warming/

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Flush by Carl Hiaasen

Flush is an environmental mystery by Carl Hiaasen set in the Florida Keys, revolving around a 14 year old boy, Noah, who along with his sister, are trying to save their parents’ marriage. The book has a sort of skewed moral compass where the ends seem to justify the means as the heroes/good guys, both young and old, behave recklessly, often stupidly, and at times illegally — all for a good cause: stopping a corrupt casino boat owner who’s been dumping raw sewage into the waters near their home.

This book delves into environmental issues with a side of adventuring and mystery with plenty of witty humour. Without making a big deal of it, Hiaasen makes his 14-year-old protagonist an accomplished naturalist. Noah knows the names of plants and animals that live where he does—in the Florida Keys. Noah really looks at where he is when he’s outdoors and notices what he sees. And, it really fits in with the whole theme of environmental justice and gives a reason as to why Noah might care about the pollution happening in his town.

Although Noah is not afraid of risks, he’s a practical kind of guy, unlike his dad, who is a hothead. Noah gets that practicality from his mother. She married because she loved her impulsive husband, but he goes a little far in his fight to keep the ocean clean. ‘Flush’ has a little subplot—Noah and his stubbornly righteous little sister, Abbey, working together to save their parents’ marriage. It also features a bartender who saves the day named Shelly, who has a ‘barbed-wire tattoo around one of her biceps,’ wears ‘stockings that look like they were made from a mullet net,’ and actually lives in a trailer park. 

Overall, the subplot and Noah’s eye for nature combine with colorful characters and a good dose of action and suspense to endear readers of ‘Flush.’  All in all, it tells an amusing story while addressing the topic of environmentalism and conservation in South Florida. 

Check out how to avoid water pollution- https://easierreadthandone887945191.wordpress.com/2020/09/25/how-to-avoid-water-pollution/

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