Most of the wealth in Dove Creek, West Virginia, is in the earth-in the coal seams that have provided generations with a way of life. Born and raised here, twenty-seven-year-old Cole Freeman has sidestepped work as a miner to become an aide in a nursing home.Read more...
Most of the wealth in Dove Creek, West Virginia, is in the earth-in the coal seams that have provided generations with a way of life. Born and raised here, twenty-seven-year-old Cole Freeman has sidestepped work as a miner to become an aide in a nursing home. He's got a shock of bleached blond hair and a gentle touch well suited to the job. He's also a drug dealer, reselling the prescription drugs his older patients give him to a younger crowd looking for different kinds of escape.
In this economically depressed, shifting landscape, Cole is floundering. The mining corporation is angling to buy the Freeman family's property, and Cole's protests only feel like stalling. Although he has often dreamed of leaving, he has a sense of duty to this land, especially after the death of his grandfather. His grandfather is not the only loss: Cole's one close friend, Terry Rose, has also slipped away from him, first to marriage, then to drugs. While Cole alternately attempts romance with two troubled women, he spends most of his time with the elderly patients at the home, desperately trying to ignore the decay of everything and everyone around him. Only when a disaster befalls these mountains is Cole forced to confront his fears and, finally, take decisive action-if not to save his world, to at least save himself.
"The Evening Hour "marks the powerful debut of a writer who brings originality, nuance, and an incredible talent for character to an iconic American landscape in the throes of change.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-10-10
- Reviewer: Staff
Set in modern-day West Virginia coal country, Sickels’s debut revolves around a cast of characters whose world is pulled out from under them. Though protagonist Cole Freeman—a 27-year-old who works as an aide at a nursing home—likes the people he assists, he steals their belongings and deals the prescription drugs he buys from them. From his point of view, he’s not doing anything wrong, simply helping his patients who need money to pay their bills. Meanwhile, a coal mining company engaged in mountaintop removal poisons the landscape in an effort to force people off their land, posing a deadly threat to residents. However, families like Cole’s don’t want to move. In the words of Cole’s dying grandfather, a fire and brimstone preacher and snake handler: “Why would I want to live on land that my people never walked on?” Cole meanders through life, making on-again, off-again friendships, but he vows to change direction as the drug trade turns violent and he faces suspicion. The question becomes: is there a better life out there? Even at his worst, Cole proves well-intentioned and likable, with deep caring for others that proves refreshing, particularly when disaster strikes. Despite moments of heavy-handed foreshadowing and repetitive conversations, the novel is grounded in rich storytelling. (Jan.)