Book #39 was Wish You Well by David Baldacci. The back of the book reads:
It is 1940 and the accidental death of their father sends two children, Lou and her younger brother Oz, along with their invalid mother, from New York City to the rugged mountains of southwestern Virginia to live with their great-grandmother, Louisa Mae Cardinal. Life is different in Virginia where food is homemade, school is a long walk down the road, and chores involve rising early in the morning. The children flourish. Then the local coal-and-gas company comes around, conniving to seize the property. The climactic courtroom battle, which will decide the fates of Lou, Oz, and their mother, is as unpredictable as it is relentless.
This was a sweet story about a couple of kids that are given more hard knocks than they deserve. I normally don’t like it when authors switch genres (see: James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell), but this was wonderful writing from Baldacci. The ending is a little sugary-sweet-fairy-tale-ish, but it’s forgivable.
I felt a little bit of an extra connection to this story because it is set where I live. I’m not quite in coal country, but I’m on the cusp of it. People around here hold on to their way of life as fiercely now as they did then, even if that way has changed a bit. I can also appreciate Louisa Mae’s connection with the land, since my own family made their living from the land for a long time.
Page count: 416 | Word count: 93,213