It’s the power of words that spoke to me as I read this novel. Papaw gives Curley a new word every week which Papaw feels is Curley’s way out of the holler even though Curley would prefer to stay. Hoping to strengthen his vocabulary, these words make Curley stick out among his peers but Papaw hopes someday that Curley will escape the holler as he feels it has nothing to offer his grandson. The holler: the place that stole Curley’s immediate family away, the place where his girlfriend Jules resides and the place that holds the mountain where Jules and Curley sit inside Ol’ Charley talking and discussing life.
The mine has been closed for many years and now that it is reopening, excitement has hit Wonder Gap including the lives of Curley and Papaw. Jules takes an interest in the new boy JD and Curley feels betrayed. It’s no longer Curley and Jules as JD has now entered their lives. JD’s interested in his new environment is not exciting but has mixed reviews as his family is going through some hard times. I loved JD’s turmoil as I thought it played off the characters and it provided some twists inside the novel. To keep the town alive and the mine active they must reach beyond the area they once extracted and now extend to their operations to the region outside Curley’s window. Progress they call it but Curley calls it home and he wants to keep it that way. For a small child, Curley faces a huge task; to keep his view intact and to keep what he feels belongs to the town of Wonder Gap, the mountain that looms overhead. I liked the empowerment that Curley gained as he matures in this novel. He questioned things and learns as tries to succeed in his quest. There are people on both sides of the fence on this matter but for Curley, this is all he has ever known, this world outside his door and he wants to keep it that way.
3.5 to 4 stars