A Diamond in the Dust

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Overview

Coal mining, dreams, tough times, and a bright spirit all combine within the pages of this vivid, romantic tale. The year is 1905, but little of the new century's optimism has made its way to the hardscrabble mining town of Buckeye City. Here sixteen-year-old Katy Sollis finds herself trying to reach for a future that's as hard to grab on to as a handful of coal dust. Flavored with the rural tang and spirit of mining life, A Diamond in the Dust takes readers into a year of first love, and struggles fought both at...
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Boatwright, Phil 2001 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 208 p. Audience: Young adult; Children/juvenile.

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Overview

Coal mining, dreams, tough times, and a bright spirit all combine within the pages of this vivid, romantic tale. The year is 1905, but little of the new century's optimism has made its way to the hardscrabble mining town of Buckeye City. Here sixteen-year-old Katy Sollis finds herself trying to reach for a future that's as hard to grab on to as a handful of coal dust. Flavored with the rural tang and spirit of mining life, A Diamond in the Dust takes readers into a year of first love, and struggles fought both at home and within Katy's own mind and heart. A journey of its particular time and place, it's also a story for all who've been at that point when past and future are just inches apart-and the time to reach for dreams is now.

Despite her mother's objections and the love of an older classmate, sixteen-year-old Katy is determined to find a better life for herself beyond her family's poverty and sorrow in the Illinois coal mining town where they live.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Joinson (March of Glory) evokes the hardships of life in a turn-of-the-century southern Illinois mining town in this affecting novel. Her 16-year-old heroine, Katy Sollis, knows there must be something better than the grit and terrible dangers of the mines, and she's determined to find it. Innate resilience helps her withstand the daily toll of poverty and her bitter, careworn mother's pressure on her to quit school and marry a coarse man she barely knows. Katy dreams of going to St. Louis and maybe becoming a "lady type-writer" or even a teacher, but she also thinks she loves her brother's best friend, who has no intention of ever leaving Buckeye City. While the plot occasionally verges on the melodramatic and some of the writing borders on the formulaic ("Believe in yourself, and don't ever lose hope," the schoolteacher tells Katy at the end), Joinson succeeds in creating compelling conflicts, and she doesn't take the easy route in resolving them. When Katy finally makes her escape, it is not without a real sense of what she is sacrificing. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
The coal mines kill, and Katy's father, brother, and boyfriend are all deep in the mines everyday. Yet, 16 year-old Katy wants more, and her teacher, Miss Maplewhite, and her brother, Tim, see her potential to be an educated and successful woman. In the early 1900s in Illinois, though, women, including Katy's mother, married young, had children, and waited everyday in fear of the siren that cuts through the sky, shrieking death of their coal miner husbands. Katy inspires readers as she struggles to break away from traditional expectations to achieve new dreams. Teenage readers especially will connect with Katy as they themselves search for ways to become who they want to be in the face of expectations from society, their family, and their friends. The characters in this book¾from Katy's stoic mother to the coal mine's young, arrogant boss — are vivid and believable in their honest struggles with a changing world. Genre: History/Coming of Age. 2001, Dial Books, 197 pp., $17.90. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Susanne Nobles; Fredericksburg, Virginia
VOYA
This coming-of-age novel finds sixteen-year-old Katy Sollis dealing with issues of first love, self-identity, and conflicts with her parents. What makes this tale different? Katy's story is set in 1905 Buckeye City, a coal-mining town near St. Louis. Katy's mother demands that she help around the house, quit school, and follow in her parents' footsteps, which means that she should marry a miner and have a large family. Katy's parents have even arranged for her to be courted by a mine supervisor, who has other plans in store for Katy. Katy definitely has a mind of her own, however, with plans of finishing school, becoming a teacher, and moving to St. Louis for a better life. This novel spans a year in Katy's life as she makes new discoveries and important decisions. Filled with details about the mining culture and Buckeye City in the early 1900s, Joinson's book is a well-written and swift-moving historical novel that features a hardworking, strong-willed, and intelligent young lady. Although this novel probably will be more popular with younger girls, it should appeal to many young adults, even those who might not be historical fiction fans, with the proper promotion and a good booktalk. Katy's story aptly demonstrates that young adults of every time and place experience similar problems while facing adulthood. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Dial, 224p, $17.99. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Nicole Cooke SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10-Growing up in an Illinois mining town in the early 1900s with a father sick from breathing in coal dust and a mother worn out from childbirth and poverty, 16-year-old Katy dreams of moving to St. Louis and becoming a teacher. However, her parents don't support her desire to escape their way of life ("Nobody in this family is doing a thing excepting what their mama and daddy done. You'll be a wife and mother just like me"). When her mother becomes pregnant and her younger brother quits school to work in the mines, the pressure increases for the teen to marry Kenny Randall, a rough widower with a baby and a nasty temper. Still, she rebels. She shares her first kiss with longtime friend Michael; though she has feelings for him, she knows his dreams are limited to the mines as well. After a family tragedy, Katy finds the opportunity to leave. Although several lesser characters are hastily drawn and the threat of Kenny's violence disappears in the final third of the book, most readers will identify with Katy's internal struggle. While this story will have a wider audience, libraries in which Homer Hickam's Rocket Boys (Delacorte, 1998) is popular will want to promote it.- Katie O'Dell, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803725119
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/1/1901
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 11 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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