His mother's deathbed wish sends 17-year-old Jeremy Prine to seek his estranged uncle, a man who was badly burned in an accident that killed his father. Uncle Aidan is in the deep South, working as a miner, his personality as hopelessly scarred as his face and hands.
Aidan resents his nephew's presence, but guilt shackles the youth to him. When Jeremy takes a job with the min-ing company, Aidan hopes his rowdy co-workers' hazing and the harsh working conditions will drive the lad away, even while he scrambles to keep him safe in the dangerous work. Jeremy's young faith is tested in the crucible of hard labor, rough company and difficult family relationships. The foreign concept of forgiveness begins to crack Aidan's bitter shell bit by tiny bit. Then Aidan's worst nightmare unfolds before his eyes. Can he save Jeremy where he failed to save his brother?
Sparkling character studies grace this powerful tale of hope regained and the miracle of inner healing. A page-turning blend of humor, knuckle-biting action and deep introspection. Cramer is a new author to watch. (Jul., 400 pp., $12.99)
Jill Elizabeth Nelson