Reviews for Miner's Daughter


Booklist Reviews 2007 February #2
Willa has always lived in a tiny West Virginia coal town, where meager food, patched clothes, and hard work are the routine, but when the Depression causes the mines to close, her large family is left with nothing. She poses as a boy to find a job, while her father and brother join a crew doing very dangerous work. Willa's solace comes from Miss Grace, a missionary who opens a library where Willa can indulge her love of reading, and from Johnny, her new beau. Willa's older brother firmly believes that newly elected Franklin Roosevelt will fix things. Indeed, the family becomes part of Arthurdale, the New Deal community, but its good fortune is at the expense of those left behind for not being white or native-born. This bittersweet historical novel may be standard fare, but it has enough emotional resonance thanks to strong Willa, whose compassion, resolve, and literary ability make her a voice of change. Life during the time is convincingly portrayed, and readers will never doubt that Willa and her family are part of it. ((Reviewed February 15, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
Sixteen-year-old Willa and her family wrestle through tough times in a Depression-era coal mining town. Willa becomes the hub of the family, running the household when her mother becomes ill and later feeding the family by becoming a farm laborer. Laskas's evocation of time and place is engrossing. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2006 December #2
Sixteen-year-old Willa Lowell lives in "a world of ashy grays"--trees gone, the earth bare, pits smoldering and houses stacked up on the hills like rungs of a ladder and blackened by coal dust. She knows there's a beautiful world beyond her desolate one; she has seen it from walks up the mountain with her brother Ves, looking across the valley to the next mountain over. And Miss Grace, the new lady at the Mission, welcomes Willa to her library, a clean, well-lighted place full of books. It is Miss Grace and her books that lead Willa beyond her narrow world to new hope in Arthurdale, a planned community championed by Eleanor Roosevelt to offer hope in the midst of the Depression. The 1932 West Virginia setting is beautifully realized, historical details never overwhelming a story that succeeds in putting a human face on poverty, prejudice and dreams. Rooted in Laskas's own family history, this is a fine coming-of-age story and an ode to libraries that teachers and librarians will love. (author's note) (Fiction. 12+) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection - August/September 2007
Sixteen-year-old Willa and her family live in West Virginia, where the Depression has hit hard. Willa's father and older brother are coal miners, but soon after Roosevelt is elected, the coal mines shut down and they must leave to find work. Willa's mother is recovering from a difficult pregnancy, and Willa is carrying most of the burden at home. She struggles to find time to study with Miss Grace, a missionary, all the while trying to keep her family from starving. One day, Miss Grace brings a special visitor to Willa's cabin- Mrs. Roosevelt. Soon Willa's family is being offered the opportunity to move to Arthurdale, the New Deal community designed by the government to help people. When Johnny, the boy she loves, proposes, Willa must choose between him and her family, between her dreams of romance and her dreams of an education. Teen girls especially will identify with Willa's dilemma. Laskas paints a vivid picture of a family in crisis, making the larger historical context of a nation in crisis all the more personal. The Author's Note includes a list of Web sites. Recommended. Laurie Slagenwhite, Youth Services Librarian, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, Michigan © 2007 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2007 February
Gr 5-8-Willa Laura Lowell is a 16-year-old miner's daughter ushering in the Depression in a West Virginia coal miner's camp. The days are long and hard, but worse when the mine shuts down. There is no money, forcing Willa's father and older brother to look for work elsewhere. Left alone with her mother and three younger siblings, Willa helps as she can and dreams of a better life. Life changes dramatically for her and her family when they are offered a place in a new town. The teen never loses sight of where she came from and is determined to help others as she was helped. Richly drawn characters and plot make this an excellent novel that explores the struggles endured by many in America in the 1930s. The integrity of the characters and their resourcefulness show readers how, with hard work and determination, adversity can be overcome.-Denise Moore, O'Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2007 April
Surrounded by the stark poverty of West Virginia Depression-era coal mining life, sixteen-year-old Willa shoulders a woman's responsibilities. Willa leaves school to keep house for her father, sister, two brothers, and struggling pregnant mother. She continues book learning when a missionary, Grace McCartney, sets up a reading room and lending library. Her mother's slow recovery from giving birth, her brother and father's leaving to find work, her own backbreaking field labor, and romance leads Willa to confide in Grace, who introduces the gifted Willa and her industrious family to Eleanor Roosevelt. Both Mrs. Roosevelt and Grace recommend the family for the Arthurdale experiment, a New Deal homestead. Almost refusing to participate when she discovers that the project is WASP only, Willa records her objection in a private diary. Through her mother and teacher, Willa's words reach Mrs. Roosevelt who publishes them in her column. Willa discovers that although she still loves the Catholic boy she left behind, she wants to make a difference in the world via a newspaper career before marrying Strong, believable characters, an engaging plot, and lyrical prose make this story a great companion for coming-of-age Depression literature such as Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (Scholastic,1997/VOYA April 1998). An author's note includes five Web sites for further information on West Virginia, Arthurdale, and the New Deal.-Lucy Schall 4Q 4P J S Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.

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