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
Other book review and summary links:
- DIG TOO DEEP | Kirkus Reviews
- Read This!: DIG TOO DEEP by Amy Allgeyer | Kathy MacMillan
- Review: Dig Too Deep by Amy Allgeyer | Katie Jane Gallagher (katiejgallagher.com)
Check out how to help reduce water wastage and impacts of mining-
- How to help reduce water pollution due to mining – Easier Read Than Done (wordpress.com)
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