Cover image for Coal Run : a novel
Title:
Coal Run : a novel
Author:
O'Dell, Tawni.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
354 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.6 18.0 80146.
ISBN:
9780670899951
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

"Coal Run is a community of ghosts and memories. After a mining explosion took the lives of so many men and transformed their families, the reverberations are still being felt in the generation of survivors thirty years later. Narrator Ivan Zoschenko, the local deputy and erstwhile football legend ("the Great Ivan Z"), his pro career sidelined by a knee injury, spends a week seemingly preparing for an old teammate's imminent release from prison. In doing so, Ivan introduces a rich cast of characters - his unexpectedly wise and comic former beauty queen sister, his former idol Val Claypool, and the young woman whose life he changed forever. And during the events of this week, Ivan confronts his demons and reveals himself to be a man whose conscience is burdened by a long-held and shocking secret that must be reckoned with."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

As in Back Roads (1999), O'Dell's debut novel, which became an Oprah selection, the setting here is a run-down Pennsylvania mining town, but this time there is far less emphasis on melodrama. What remains is a glorious story of love and loss, of achievement and disappointment, of hope and despair. After more than 15 years living in Florida, Ivan Zoschenko returns to his home in western Pennsylvania, his arrival coinciding with the release from prison of his high-school alter ego, Reese Raynor. Ivan is not thrilled to return home: he had gladly left behind memories of the explosion at the mine that killed his father and nearly 100 other miners when he was six, and he doesn't look forward to hearing the locals' reaction to the bizarre injury that brought his career as a pro football player to an abrupt end. But here he is, sleeping on his sister's couch and working temporarily as deputy for the sheriff's office. The novel takes place over the course of only one week, yet O'Dell manages to give the story an epic dimension through masterful intercutting of past and present. Reese's pending release drives the plot, and as the day nears, Ivan confronts his own demons and secrets with true-to-life reluctance. Like Russo's Miles Roby in Empire Falls (2001) , Ivan begrudgingly comes to savor the small-town life he thought he hated. A beautifully written, sweeping story. --Mary Frances Wilkens Copyright 2004 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

O'Dell (Back Roads) explores the dynamics of a tiny Pennsylvania coal-mining town in her probing, heartbreaking second novel, which centers on the fortunes of former college football hero Ivan Zoschenko. The novel literally opens with a bang in a flashback that recalls the tragic underground explosion that took the life of Zoschenko's father and killed 96 other men from Coal Run. Some 15 years later, just after Zoschenko is drafted by the Chicago Bears, his knee is crushed in an accident in the same mines. His subsequent fall from grace is long and hard; he moves to Florida, hits the bars and works as an exterminator. He returns home only when he hears that Reese Raynor, a former schoolmate who beat his wife, Crystal, into a coma, is being released from prison. Despite his drinking problem, Zoschenko is hired as a deputy by the local sheriff, getting back in touch with his gorgeous sister, a single mom and career waitress; his boyhood hero, now a reclusive Vietnam vet; Reese's troubled twin brother, Jesse; and Crystal, who is still comatose and reminds Zoschenko of a shameful incident in his past. That past is linked to Reese Raynor's, and the novel builds to the inevitable brutal collision of the two men. O'Dell's portrait of Zoschenko is deep and penetrating, but even more moving is her portrayal of the coal-town community. Ravaged by disaster and callous corporate treatment, the citizens of Coal Run still can't imagine any other life. As Zoschenko puts it, "Long before [the mine] became the site of so much death, it had been a source of life for all of us. For me it was the closest thing I had to God." Though it occasionally flirts with sentimentality, this is a fierce, sharply drawn and richly sympathetic tribute to working-class America. Agent, Liza Dawson. (July) Forecast: O'Dell's first novel got an Oprah boost, which sets the bar high for her second. Riveting storytelling and genuine emotional punch should help this excellent sophomore effort keep pace. 10-city author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

O'Dell sets her second novel in the same western Pennsylvania coal-mining region of her successful debut, Back Roads. When the story opens, five-year-old Ivan is waving good-bye to his father as he leaves to work in the local mines. Years later, Ivan returns to his hometown a fallen local hero whose promising football career came to a dramatic halt owing to a knee injury; he takes up work as a deputy and awaits the release of a former teammate from prison. Aided by his insightful mother, his wise sister and her loving sons, and the nearly omniscient town doctor, Ivan reconsiders the course of his life. As she did in her acclaimed debut, O'Dell displays a marvelous gift for serving up eccentric, believable characters and vividly captures the bleakness and harshness of coal-mining country. This captivating novel is recommended for most public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/04.]-Andrea Tarr, Corona P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.