Christopher Scotton’s debut novel, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth, is riveting. A multigenerational story set against the backdrop of Medgar, a struggling Kentucky mining town, it tells the story of the disparate population of mine owners, their laborers, and a close community on the verge of major change.

Looking back on the tumultuous events of his 14th year, when he was sent to Medgar with his mother to grieve the death of his brother, protagonist Kevin steps into a world beyond his imagining. When an opposition leader working against the mine is found murdered, events reminiscent of Deliverance occur. Scotton’s empathetic and redemptive characters and riveting plot are so impressive that I recommend this book to everyone. This exquisite debut from Grand Central will appeal to anyone, with its myriad themes: fathers and sons, sexual identity and communities, land rights vs. preservation, and the difficult journey of healing from loss. The Secret Wisdom of the Earth reads like suspense, evokes emotion like a tragedy, and, in the end, is thoroughly satisfying. Perfect for book clubs, airplanes, or nights you don’t want any sleep.

Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books, Wichita, Kans