|About the Book|
Another one of those books that you read and then cant stop thinking about. It was very well written. Everyones personalities were so well described that the reader really got a sense of who everyone was. I had been surprised to see that the author was American, but when I read and saw the American connection, it made sense. I was just surprised because I had expected the author of such a book would be Canadian.The true story begins in Book I by introducing the miners, their lifestyle and daily routines. As I wrote above, their personalities are very well portrayed and I did get attached to some and cringed at what I knew was coming. Melissa Fay Greenes description of the actual collapse of the mine (the boom) and of where people were when it happened -both the miners and their families- was so well written, it was as if she had slowed time down and we were experiencing evrything in slow motion, from a dozen different perspectives at once.Then, time slowed down to a crawl for everyone. The miners who were still alive (7 miners at 12 600 and 12 at 13 000 feet below the surface) were in for a long wait, as were their families above. The descriptions of the injuries broke the heart, especially Percy, whose arm was crushed, pinning him beneath a column under the weight of thousands of pounds timber, rock and coal. The descriptions of how the miners suffered from thirst were almost too much to bear. I kept thinking, Get them out of there already! Thankfully, the rescuers finally did manage to reach them, and both groups of men were thankfully restored to daylight after over a week underground.Once the men are rescued, Book II follows their story as they and their families are invited to Georgia by its segragationalist governor Marvin Griffin. Little does this Southerner realize that one of the miners is a black man with 12 children. This man, Maurice Ruddick, and his wife and children, are put in a trailer at the other end of Jekyl Island from the whites-only hotel where his fellow miners are given accomodation. I already had a sweet spot for this Singing Miner who loved music because it was he who stayed by Percy, talking softly to him as he suffered and cried out from the torture his arm was being subjected to by the pressure on it. My respect for him grew as he accepted his circumstances, agreeing to obey the local law of segregation so that his fellow miners wouldnt have to refuse the vacation, as some of them had offered to do out of solidarity. Then, Maurice Ruddick was chosen to become the 1958 Citizen of the Year, which somehow went wrong for him as he realized there may be some resentment from the other miners. Once back in Springhill, he became increasingly a recluse, staying home to raise his 12 children and eventually grandchildren. He had always hoped to be famous, though he thought it would be his music that would bring him into the spotlight. Instead, reporters fabricated stories about how he sang to the miners during the week underground earned him resentment and loneliness. (He hadnt sung to the men during their week of thirst and hunger, but he HAD always sung with them in the trolley going down and up at the beginning and end of their shifts.)The end of the book is melancholy. Maurice Ruddick died of old age and was buried in Springfield. Despite the miraculous rescue of the two groups of miners, we are reminded of the many who lost their lives. Sadie Allen, the wife of a miner named Fidel, never believed that her husband had been found after the accident, even after his coffin was brought home to her. She had peeked in and said she had seen nothing but rocks and dirt. She believes his body still lies in the mine.