Dulemba, Elizabeth O. A Bird on Water Street
May 7th 2014 by Little Pickle Pres
Nominated for the Cybils by Lynn Miller-Lachman
In the 1980s, Jack's family is dependent on the copper mines in their Appalachian town, even though they have caused the deaths of family members as well as environmental devastation. There are no trees and no birds in the town because of the acid rain caused by various processes involved, and Jack loves trees. When the mining company lays off a large number of workers, the remaining workers go on strike. With the mine shut down, the area around the town starts improving a bit, and Jack hopes that the mine never reopens. If that's the case, though, his family will have to leave, because there won't be any work for his father to do. It's bad enough that half the population of the town seems to have left to look for other jobs, which impacts remaining businesses and concerns, like the school and post office. Jack wishes that there could be some balance-- keep the town alive, but repair the environmental damage.
Strengths: There're not a lot of books written about Appalachia, and that's certainly a different kind of diversity. These areas are still struggling thirty years after this book is set. There are also not many books written about the labor issues that went on in the 1970s and 80s. Jack is an appealing character who is stuck in a conundrum, and the picture of the close knit town is interesting.
Weaknesses: There's some attempt at dialect, but it's very uneven. I'm not a fan of dialect, so I was fine with the infrequent use, but it was off when there were some phrases used. A rather philosophical book, there's not a lot of excitement, and it is definitely another sad book.