In this vibrant new historical novel, the acclaimed author of The Plum Tree
and What She Left Behind
explores one young woman’s determination to put an end to child labor in a Pennsylvania mining town…
As a child, Emma Malloy left isolated Coal River, Pennsylvania, vowing never to return. Now, orphaned and penniless at nineteen, she accepts a train ticket from her aunt and uncle and travels back to the rough-hewn community. Treated like a servant by her relatives, Emma works for free in the company store. There, miners and their impoverished families must pay inflated prices for food, clothing, and tools, while those who owe money are turned away to starve.
Most heartrending of all are the breaker boys Emma sees around the village—young children who toil all day sorting coal amid treacherous machinery. Their soot-stained faces remind Emma of the little brother she lost long ago, and she begins leaving stolen food on families’ doorsteps, and marking the miners’ bills as paid.
Though Emma’s actions draw ire from the mine owner and police captain, they lead to an alliance with a charismatic miner who offers to help her expose the truth. And as the lines blur between what is legal and what is just, Emma must risk everything to follow her conscience.
An emotional, compelling novel that rings with authenticity—Coal River is a deft and honest portrait of resilience in the face of hardship, and of the simple acts of courage that can change everything.
Praise For The Novels Of Ellen Marie Wiseman
What She Left Behind
“A great coming-of-age story.” --School Library Journal
“A real page turner.” --Historical Novel Society
“The author has once again delved into the lives of teenage girls, albeit in different circumstances than her first work, yet with the same insight, nuance, and raw emotion readers can appreciate and enjoy.” --New York Journal of Books
“A great read!” --The San Francisco Book Review
The Plum Tree
“The meticulous hand-crafted detail and emotional intensity of The Plum Tree immersed me in Germany during its darkest hours and the ordeals its citizens had to face. A must-read for WWII Fiction aficionados—and any reader who loves a transporting story.” --Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us
“Wiseman eschews the genre’s usual military conflicts of daily life during wartime, lending an intimate and compelling poignancy to this intriguing debut.” --Publishers Weekly
“Ellen Marie Wiseman weaves a story of intrigue, terror, and love from a perspective not often seen in Holocaust novels.” --Jewish Book World
“Ellen Marie Wiseman’s provocative and realistic images of a small German village are exquisite. The Plum Tree will find good company on the shelves of those who appreciated Skeletons at the Feast, by Chris Bohjalian, Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay, and Night, by Elie Wiesel.” --NY Journal of Books