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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publication Date: 1/06/2015
Format: Audio
My Rating: 5 Stars
2015 Best Debut-Fiction
After witnessing the death of his younger brother in a terrible home accident, 14-year-old Kevin and his grieving mother are sent for the summer to live with Kevin's grandfather. In this 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 events of this fateful summer will affect the entire town of Medgar, Kentucky.
Medgar 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. When Buzzy witnesses the brutal murder of the opposition leader, a sequence is set in play which tests Buzzy and Kevin to their absolute limits in an epic struggle for survival in the Kentucky mountains.
Redemptive and emotionally resonant, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is narrated by an adult Kevin looking back on the summer when he sloughed the coverings of a boy and took his first faltering steps as a man among a rich cast of characters and an ambitious effort to reclaim a once great community.

My Review

THE SECRET WISDOM OF THE EARTH by talented Christopher Scotton, is a highly recommended compelling, multi-layered coming-of-age epic debut, crossing many genres.
A deeply-moving story, with a powerful voice of adult Kevin, main protagonist, telling his story--with a "heart of gold", and as big as the mountains; matched perfectly by audio narrator, Robert Petkoff, delivering an award-winning performance! This southern classic is a "must read" and guaranteed to win your heart. Set in Kentucky in the 1980s, after the horrific death of Kevin’s younger brother, now 14 years old, he moves with his distraught mother to the rural Kentucky home of his grandfather. It is here he meets a local boy Buzzy and they two become friends; introducing him to all things the rural mountain area has to offer, from fishing, hunting, and country living. However, what he does find is troubling, making him confused. The people are backward thinking, narrow minded, filled with hate, rage, racists, and bigotry. This pair slowly is drawn into the local politics of the good ole’ boys at the heights of the coal mountaintop removal mining in the rural Appalachia Mountains, and the death of a local gay guy, (and much loved citizen). A small town mix of good and evil; from witty, humorous, rednecks, hillbillies, racists, activists, gays, bigots, and those without education and forward thinking—a murderer. A variety of viewpoints, in one small town --spells TROUBLE. An emotional and heartfelt journey of a grandfather and grandson. Pops, Kevin’s grandfather, a veterinarian and a mentor for Kevin introducing him to a world he knows nothing of, along with his friend, Buz. With an array of characters from Boyd’s Mining (who is trying to buy up the land from locals),Paul, the local hairdresser (loved him), and environmental activists, for a fight which escalates, becoming personal and dangerous with a brutal murder. With many hard lessons, a young troubled boy, learns wisdom, tolerance, beauty, hope, and courage; in a world of ugliness, devastation, and hatred. From the vivid settings, descriptions of the land, mountains, and nature combined with beautiful narrative, Scotton delivers an extraordinary tale which will remain with you long after the book ends A gifted new author with a "winner out of the gate," takes readers on a journey of "human compassion, resilience, redemption, and the power of family.” An author I look forward to following for years to come!
Review Links:
Coming in Paperback Jan 5, 2016!

About the Author

I grew up about 30 miles outside of Washington, D.C. in what was then undeveloped country. It was a place of cornfields and tree houses, dammed-up creeks and secret swimming holes. In the summers, my brothers and I would dash out around 8:00 am for wherever and return just in time for dinner in the evening. It was a magical place to be a kid and I wanted to recapture that wonder of discovery as fourteen year-old Kevin explores his new surroundings in my debut novel The Secret Wisdom of the Earth.
When I was about Kevin’s age, developers bought up most of the land and the idyllic bounds of my childhood became one big construction site—creeks were backfilled and swimming holes ran to mud. All of us neighborhood hellions felt a great sense of loss at the destruction of our woods—one we couldn’t quite understand or articulate, but it hung over us that summer like a fogged-in field. Read More


A page turner” — The New York Times Book Review
“A marvelous debut…I hated to put it down.” — John Grisham
“Soaring…an adrenaline-pumping climax written in taut, propulsive prose.” — USA Today
“Marvelous…big hearted.” — Chicago Tribune (Editor’s Choice)
“A virtuoso combination of uplift and heartbreak. Writing careers don’t begin any more promising than this.” — Christian Science Monitor
“A powerful epic of people and place, loss and love, reconciliation and redemption.” — Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“Pulse quickening…poignant…beguiling…in prose as biting as Pops’ sour mash whiskey.” — O Magazine, January 2015






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