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These connected short stories, set in the coal-mining town of Bakerton, PA, span the 1940s to the present. Beautifully written and deeply moving, they feature characters whose lives have not turned out the way they had imagined. In "Beast and Bird," a young woman gets a brief taste of a very different life when she's hired as a maid for a wealthy family. In "Broken Star," the narrator belatedly understands her real relationship to her aunt. The main character in "A Place in the Sun" battles addiction to try to be the man everyone wants him to be. One character, Joyce Novak, appears in several of the stories at various points in her life, her struggles some of the most haunting in the book. Some episodes end painfully, but occasionally the protagonists rise up and find hope and strength amid the disappointments. All of their struggles linger in the mind. This is a masterly collection. VERDICT Highly recommended for fans of Haigh's novel Baker Towers, which features some of the same characters, and of Anne Tyler and Elizabeth Strout, who also excel at re-creating small-town life. [See Prepub Alert., 8/27/12.]-Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
In this collection of interlinked short stories, Haigh returns to Bakerton, Pennsylvania, and the characters she created for Baker Towers (2005). As the once prosperous mining town crumbles around the residents, family secrets are uncovered, lessons are learned, and the inhabitants seem to discover that the world around them is not the sum of the world, indeed. Beast and Bird finds a young woman working as a maid to a Jewish family in New York City a very different kind of place from her family's farm in Pennsylvania. Something Sweet follows a spinster teacher and her star pupil, a young man who is adored by the girls but beaten by his male classmates for being different. And in What Remains, the town sees the last remaining heir to the Baker Brothers coal mines suffer an ignoble death. Haigh has a gift for creating believable characters of all kinds and placing them into realistic often heartbreaking situations. A must-read for fans of Baker Towers and a good addition to all short story collections.--Vnuk, Rebecca Copyright 2010 Booklist