Coal River

Coal River

by Ellen Marie Wiseman


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Coal River by Ellen Marie Wiseman

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617734472
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 11/24/2015
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 216,302
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Ellen Marie Wiseman was born and raised in Three Mile Bay, a tiny hamlet in Northern New York. Ellen lives on the shores of Lake Ontario with her husband, two spoiled Shih-Tzus, and a rescued yellow lab. She loves to cook, travel, garden, watch movies, and spend time with her children and grandchildren. For more visit:

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Coal River 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love all of her books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good historical novel. Interesting although sometimes redundant. Author could interject side plots that are not always directly related to the story. She should keep writing about places and the people whose lives made it what it is today. Good reading.
Anonymous 20 days ago
I understand years ago, the lifestyle that is protrayed in this story was very real. The concept was over the top with a very sad and depressing senario throuhout the whole book. There was no "light" in the story line, just darkness. Not my type of reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recommend as a read. Gives I sight into a forced life style most of us can’t imagine.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
From first page to last, I was kept thoroughly on edge by this captivating novel about child labor in Pennsylvania. After the death of her parents, Emma finds alone and without resources. She is compelled to travel back to Coal River, Pennsylvania to live with her aunt and uncle who, like the rest of the town, earn a living from the local coal mine. Immediately, her cold and unloving relatives put her to work around the house and the company store which they run on behalf of the coal mine owner. While the coal mine owners and her uncle get rich off the backs of the impoverished miners, Emma discovers "the breaker boys", young lands who are forced to work, some as young as 6 years old, in a most dangerous part of the mine. Emma is determined to fight for the lives of these boys and their extremely poor and abused families of Coal River. What transpires is a completely engrossing story with plenty of twists and turns. I adore books like this - that take a real human situation and show us all how the wrongs of the past were made right. Of course, there is a very strong determined heroine, and a very good man at the heart of the story. The two work together to fight for the coal miners and their families. I have to say that all the other characters in the story were intriguing because of their sometimes severe flaws, cruel intentions, and abuse. It kept me on edge throughout the story, and I loved that! The story and characters are ever evolving, capturing the reader's interest, while educating on the harsh realities and historical details of the not so distant past. The hauntingly beautiful cover drew me in, but the beautifully lush story was the true gem! This is a novel that will stay with you long after you close the book and put it away. Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
jbarr5 More than 1 year ago
Coal River by Ellen Marie Wiseman Find it interesting to read about coal mines. This book starts out with Emma and she dreams of her brother Albert and her parents that died in the fire. She's to live with her mothers sister and their family at Coal River. Uncle Otis runs the mine and she's to help in the house with chores and in the company store with Percy-her cousin. She is quite taken aback to learn of the breaker boys and how they are not being educated and she sees the emptiness in the wives that come into the store, the despair. She wants to help them escape and get out in the real world. What I like about this book is learning more of the coal mine and the rats and why they are not harmed. Love learning all the new words and what they mean. Such a strong and brave woman in that time and to do the things she did to make life easier for others without caring about her personal life. Lots of action, surprises and the book is not a predictable one by any means. I received this book from The Kennsington Books in exchange for my honest review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book.
laKa0711 More than 1 year ago
This book was great. The writing was easy to follow, it had fantastic depictions of the scenes that were being described, and twists that I never saw coming! I really liked the historical aspect of the book. I have not read other books about coal mining and did not know much about the effects it had on all aspects of the people and the towns the mills were in. Emma was a well-rounded character who had seen and suffered more than someone her age should have yet she had desire and hope, a longing for more that she never gave up on. I felt I was able to easily put myself into the scenes and see exactly what Wiseman was talking about. She had clear definitions for all the characters and their roles. I really liked the character, Clayton Nash. There could easily be a book on him alone. His dynamic with Emma seemed a little odd at times, but I liked how things came together in the end. What I liked best were the twist and turns. The book is suspenseful but not "sitting on the edge of your chair" suspenseful. It builds really well and then BAM! out of nowhere! If anything, read it just for that fact alone. Like I said, I did not put it down until I had finished. Great book! I'm kicking myself for putting off for so long. Once again, thanks Netgalley for the opportunity to read it! Check out my full review at !!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the characters and history. The novel includes: cruelty, mining disasters, love, relatives, sadness, courage, cruelty, bravery, children, orphans, and more. The book is well written but the end - well....I will let you decide about that. It was worth my time and money, and I will look forward to this author's next book. This novel desires an A++++++
leftyonkey More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I have read all of Ms. Wiseman's books and I appreciate the fact that she is a true storyteller. Her descriptive writing style makes reading her books like a movie in my head. This story of a coal mining town in 1912 Pennsylvania was very heart wrenching and her vivid storytelling just reinforced that and me feel the story that much more strongly. Emma Molloy loses both her parents in a New York City theater fire. She is sent to Coal River to live with her maternal aunt & uncle. The town has sad memories for her, because that's where her younger brother Albert drowned a few years before. Emma desperately wants to get out of Coal River, but she has no money, and no means to save any. She's forced to work at the mine's Company Store without pay and help her aunt at home. Through her work at the store she learns firsthand the plight of the miners and their wives and children, especially the breaker boys. Wanting to help she starts dropping off food in the miner's shanty town and offering to teach the children to read and write. She meets Clayton Nash who is starting a movement to get the union there and Emma gets mixed up with that it more ways than one. She puts herself in danger, but feels it's necessary to help the poor miners. The book gives a great insight into the history of mining in the U.S
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*Sniffs air and smells a mouse* creeps up on the mouse and gets into hunting croutch and jumps on it and kills it with a wift bite. * pretty good she thought