Dig Too Deep
AW Teen, April 2016
Whoever Dad was has never been in her reality and as things stand right now, Mom’s nearly as useless. She’s not only in jail, facing serious charges, but she used Liberty’s college funds to hire a lawyer. Now Liberty Briscoe is facing the loss of her best friend, the city she feels comfortable in and the promise of scholarships that being enrolled in a good private school offer.
Instead, she’s heading via a 14 hour bus trip back to Ebbotsville, Kentucky, the town where her mother grew up, to live with her grandmother. She has some memories of life there, but when she arrives and has to take a beat up taxi to Gram’s place, it’s her first inkling that life is about to change in ways she never imagined.
Gram’s frail and claims her persistent cough isn’t serious. The water has a creepy orange color and despite claims allegedly by the people responsible for testing it, nobody drinks it. In fact, bottled water eats up a lot of the limited cash and food stamps Liberty and Gram have to buy necessities.
Then, there’s the huge difference between her old school and the public one in town. Class choices are fewer and since she’s an outsider, other kids tend to shun her. Cole, however, is interested starting on day one. Liberty’s grateful for the attention and likes him at first, but his pushiness, coupled with his attempts to control her once she decides to investigate the water and why so many people have various kinds of cancer, lead to a quick break-up. Cole’s firmly in the camp of those willing to let the coal mining company wreak havoc on the nearby mountains and keep the town council in their pocket.
Dobber, Cole’s best friend intimidates Liberty at first, but the more she watches him and learns how his own family has been screwed by the coal company, the more willing she is to trust him, especially after scary things start happening around her and Gram’s farm.
This is an excellent ecological mystery/thriller that also involves a girl coming to grips with just how alike she and her estranged mother really are. Teens and adults liking an intelligent story that features a scared, but courageous protagonist will really like it.
Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, May 2016.