Poignant and thought provoking, this is a down-to-earth, sometimes humorous novel filled with suspense, action, redemption, and even romance. Seventeen-year-old Jeremy Prine decides to honor his mother’s dying wish and seek out his estranged uncle who was badly burned in the accident that killed Jeremy’s father. He finds the man working as a hard-rock miner in the south, an extremely dangerous occupation. His uncle seems a bitter and lonely man, but Jeremy senses more beneath the surface. Against his uncle’s wishes, Jeremy takes a job as a miner and soon his young faith is tested by his rough and gritty co-workers, the threat of danger…and the possibility of love.
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Deep in underground darkness, miners sometimes discover beautiful crystals in “bad ground.” This lovely symbolism permeates Cramer’s second full-length novel. The day before his mother’s funeral, newly orphaned 17-year-old Jeremy Prine is given a letter in which she tells him, “When the time is right I want you to go find your Uncle Aiden…. You have something I couldn’t give him, and he has something I couldn’t give you.” He hitchhikes to where Aiden, aka Snake, works a hard-rock tunnel south of Atlanta, and Jeremy manages to wangle a job. Cramer invites the reader into the life of the rock tunnel workers—hard-bitten, simple men with simple desires—as Jeremy wrestles with change, loss and becoming a man. Cramer (Sutter’s Cross ) has a delicious way with a pen, whether he’s crafting a lush Southern backdrop or offering glimpses of Jeremy’s and Snake’s interior lives. The sympathetic characters avoid the clichés so often found in CBA fiction, and Cramer somehow succeeds in making the horribly disfigured, hard-drinking Snake one of the book’s most appealing characters.
Bethany House Publishers
W. Dale Cramer