3 Stars Reviews

Book Review: Strange as This Weather Has Been by Ann Pancake

Goodreads summary: Set in present-day West Virginia, Ann Pancake’s debut novel, Strange As This Weather Has Been, tells the story of a coal mining family— a couple and their four children— living through the latest mining boom and dealing with the mountaintop removal and strip mining that is ruining what is left of their mountain life. As the mine turns the mountains to slag and wastewater, workers struggle with layoffs and children find adventure in the blasted moonscape craters. Strange As This Weather Has Been follows several members of the family, with a particular focus on fifteen-year-old Bant and her mother, Lace. Working at a “scab” motel, Bant becomes involved with a young miner while her mother contemplates joining the fight against the mining companies. As domestic conflicts escalate at home, the children are pushed more and more outside among junk from the floods and felled trees in the hollows— the only nature they have ever known. But Bant has other memories and is as curious and strong-willed as her mother, and ultimately comes to discover the very real threat of destruction that looms as much in the landscape as it does at home. 

When I started to read this I immediately felt like I was going to love it. I love the way Ann Pancake writes, I loved the tone of the book, the setting, the characters. But after about 100 pages I was still waiting for something to happen… like, nothing happened, for so. long. It felt really slow. The writing style kept me interested enough to continue reading, until right at the end of the book when something major happens, and then the book ends. The pacing was just really too measured for me. It was an incredibly interesting yet depressing insight into what effect mining has on these communities so overall I did enjoy it, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had some forewarning of the pacing and wasn’t constantly waiting for something to happen.

Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Read for the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge prompt: a book with a weather element in the title.

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