Willa Lowell has lived in the mining town of Riley as long as she can remember. Riley is a town of hard work, coal dust, and drab houses. It seems to Willa that her family may never escape the clutches of Riley, for they have no money to leave the town and no other jobs are available. Not only that, but with the Depression setting in the coal mine is opening for fewer and fewer days each month.
When Willa's brother Ves hears about work to be found further downstate, he leaves with his father to try to make some money for the family. Meanwhile Willa dresses as a boy so that she can work in the fields for food for the family to eat. It seems that no matter what Willa's dreams are, she will always be poor. Though she wants to learn, and loves to read poetry, her future is nonetheless grim and empty.
But then, at the last moment, the Lowell family is given a chance to start a new life, in a new town. Is this the bright future that Willa has dreamed of, or will it just turn out to be another illusion?
“The Miner's Daughter” is a reasonably well-written book. The plot and writing style are not particularly special, but the historical aspects presented are always interesting to me. Primarily, “The Miner's Daughter” teaches about the New Deal homesteads that Roosevelt's administration began during the Great Depression. It does an excellent job of showing both sides of the issue, both Roosevelt's desire to help poor mine workers, and the racism and social forces that limited who was chosen to participate and who remained at the mines. I would recommend “The Miner's Daughter” as an interesting historical jaunt, but I found the book only mildly entertaining.
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