In the beautiful Appalachian region of America, the majesty of the mountains hides a dark and often deadly world below. It is 1896 when eight-year-old Hershel Martin quits school and begins work as a trapper boy—the one who sits alone in the dark mine, opening and closing an air directing trap door, or waiting for the coal to rumble down the chute and then raising a trapdoor so the coal can fall into mine cars on the track below.
As he battles to survive within a brutal industrial culture, Hershel seemingly has no choice but to follow those in his family who have worked the mines before him. Three years later after his mother dies unexpectedly, Hershel must deal with his fear of failure at the mines, taunting from other boys, and loving feelings for a girl he is not sure can reciprocate. As he grows into a man and eventually marries, Hershel has no idea everything is about to change in 1907 when a disaster strikes the mine, leaving him grieving for his lost friends and longing to help those who have suffered unimaginable losses.
In this epic historical tale, the struggles and triumphs of an Appalachian miner and his family are brought to life as they strive to survive poverty and the danger that lurks underground.
“… Hoover … writes with great authority and a keen eye for the telling details …”
—Lee Martin, author of The Bright Forever