5 reviews

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth - Free Preview (The First 4 Chapters)
by Christopher Scotton

Published: 2015-01-06
Hardcover : 480 pages
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Recommended to book clubs by 5 of 5 members
"A marvelous debut...has everything a big, thick novel should have, and I hated to put it down." - John Grisham

"A page-turner." - New York Times Book Review

For readers of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, this is a dramatic and deeply moving novel about an act of violence in a small ...
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"A marvelous debut...has everything a big, thick novel should have, and I hated to put it down." - John Grisham

"A page-turner." - New York Times Book Review

For readers of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, this is a dramatic and deeply moving novel about an act of violence in a small Appalachian town and the repercussions that will forever change a young man's view of human cruelty and compassion.

After seeing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, fourteen-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin's grandfather. In this town of Medgar, Kentucky, a peeled-paint coal town deep in Appalachia, Kevin quickly falls in with a half-wild hollow kid named Buzzy Fink who schools him in the mysteries and magnificence of the woods.

The town is beset by a massive mountaintop removal operation that is blowing up the hills and back filling the hollows. Kevin's grandfather and others in town attempt to rally the citizens against the "company" and its powerful owner to stop the plunder of their mountain heritage. But when Buzzy witnesses a brutal hate crime, a sequence is set in play that will test Buzzy and Kevin to their absolute limits in an epic struggle for survival in the Kentucky mountains.

*Includes Reading Group Guide*

Editorial Review

The Amazon Debut Spotlight of the Month, January 2015: This earnest debut is part coming of age story, part tale of redemption and part Greek myth played out in the holler. After the horrific death of his younger brother in an accident on the lawn, 14 year old Kevin Gillooly and his distraught mother seek healing in the rural Kentucky home of his grandfather. There, Kevin – who is suffering from survivor guilt at the very least – meets up with a local boy, Buzzy Fink; the two embark on the kind of Huck Finnish boyhood adventures – fishing, hunting, hanging out in the tree house – meant to be wholesome and soul-cleansing. But this rural Kentucky town is rife with bigotry and rage, and soon Kevin and Buzzy are drawn into local politics that involve a mountaintop clearing project and the death of a local gay man who had opposed it. There are unabashed good guys, like Kevin (who has a bit of a pyromaniacal tendency, which could have been more thoroughly developed) and his “Pops,” a gruff old man who charms with remarks like “I’ll take another bullet before I eat any more of this hospital slop.” There are some very very bad guys, like the townsperson who murders his neighbor because of his own not unexpected issues. And then there are the guys – like Buzzy and Kevin – who find their characters forged and burnished by one particular hike this particular summer, the summer “when we left the coverings of boy behind,” as Kevin puts it. Readers might recognize something in the tone and style and plot; take one virtuous man, one redneck town and two scrappy, interesting kids. Add in the narration by a boy now all grown up. And you’re just begging for comparisons to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. And yet, Scotton’s very earnestness, the obvious love he has for this particular bit of land, and the perfect ear for its youngsters’ dialogue (“She smiled at me and I almost lost breakfast”) make this novel his own. At once familiar and modern, it is always poetic and compelling. --Sara Nelson


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by amwest58 (see profile) 07/23/15

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by Nelli K. (see profile) 02/19/22

by Maureen W. (see profile) 06/07/19

by Rebecca D. (see profile) 01/12/18

  "The Secret Wisdom of the Earth"by Denise C. (see profile) 09/29/15

I found this book to have the adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the drama of To Kill a Mockingbird. Our book club couldn't finish the discussion questions. There's so much depth to this novel.

  "It covers many themes well. This is a good read, hard to put down."by Gail R. (see profile) 09/08/15

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, Christopher Scotton, Robert Petkoff, narrator
Although there are many themes in this novel, homophobia, the environment, an array of human emotions, devotion
... (read more)

  "Wonderful debut novel"by Andrea W. (see profile) 07/23/15

Our book club loved this book. It takes place in eastern Kentucky in a small mountain town. Part family drama, part environmental saga, tolerance, grief, coming of age, it's all there.

  "Secret Wisdom of the Earth"by Carolyn R. (see profile) 02/21/15

I loved this book. a type of "coming of age" story without being boring.

  "A BEAUTIFUL READ"by Nancy B. (see profile) 02/02/15

Wow - what a journey. This is definitely a coming of age story but, oh, so much more. The author has a both a comical and, at times, almost a poetic descriptive nature to his writing. An exa... (read more)

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