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Review: Heat and Light

July 12, 2016

Heat & Light

Once a booming town, Bakertown, Pennsylvania lost it’s hope and prosperity when the coal mines closed.  When it’s discovered the town sits on a deposit of natural gas, the energy companies make their move and come in to buy the rights to drill for that gas.  Most people are eager to sell – it feels like an answer to their prayers – but others have their reasons for holding out.

Heat and Light by Jennifer Haigh is her latest book set in the fictional coal town of Bakerton.  Coal is out and the town and its residents have fallen on hard times.  Most people don’t know how they’re going to pay their bills.  When the energy companies come in and offer them money just for the rights to drill on their land, it seems like their luck has turned around.  Some residents question the practice of horizontal drilling (often called fracking), though, and hold out.  They all discover there are no easy answers.

Told from multiple points of view, Heat and Light is a fascinating story that explores our methods of extracting energy and the price we pay for them.  Prison guard Rich Devlin is eager to sell his gas rights to finance the farm he’s always dreamed of but organic farmers Rena and Mack are cautious because they wonder how it will affect their cattle.

Haigh’s writing and story telling are outstanding and once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down.  I had heard of fracking but didn’t know much about it and was happy to learn more.  As I read the book, I found myself researching the subject even more.  I love the way Haigh weaves issues into the lives of ordinary people – people that are easy to relate to.  I was eager to talk about the book and it gave me a lot to think about so I think it would be an excellent book club selection.   Whether you’re in a book club or not, be sure to pick this book up!

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2016 6:30 am

    Jim just finished The Bones of Paradise, and it was weird because he saw it as a book about energy rights, and to me that was just a side plot. It’s interesting how different people respond to the same books. But actually I am interested in the issue (even though I hardly noticed it in The Bones of Paradise LOL) so maybe I will look for this book!

  2. July 12, 2016 7:38 am

    Jennifer Haigh is one of my favorite writers and I loved this book.

  3. July 12, 2016 8:37 am

    Thanks for this review.

  4. July 12, 2016 9:31 am

    It’s in my TBP pile.

  5. July 12, 2016 9:42 am

    sounds both informative and interesting.

  6. Beth F permalink
    July 12, 2016 10:09 am

    I started this and then got distracted. I need to finish!

  7. July 12, 2016 10:12 am

    I might have to pick this up. I’ve read a good amount of non-fiction about fracking, and have already formed an opinion on it, but am always interested in how fiction writers weave this kind of issue into a narrative.

  8. July 12, 2016 11:14 am

    I enjoyed a few of her earlier books, so will give this a try!

  9. July 12, 2016 11:42 am

    I haven’t yet read this author, but now I must! Thanks for sharing…a very important story for our times.

  10. Patty permalink
    July 12, 2016 4:33 pm

    Yes…a very important story.

  11. July 12, 2016 11:11 pm

    Interesting. This was what happened around where I grew up and even almost as far north as Cleveland. Fracking is controversial, but the decision was often an easy one because the people often had so little.

  12. bookingmama permalink
    July 13, 2016 8:16 am

    Adored this book — definitely one of my favorites so far this year!

  13. July 13, 2016 10:11 am

    I’ve heard of fracking and controversy but not really sure what it involves. Adding this to my reading list!

  14. July 13, 2016 9:31 pm

    It seems like she likes to write about this area, and I’ve read one of her books and really enjoyed it. Glad to see she has a new one.

  15. July 14, 2016 8:33 am

    I absolutely love Haigh’s writing and I’ll definitely be picking this up. Great to hear how much you enjoyed it!

  16. July 14, 2016 9:44 pm

    I wasn’t sure about the subject matter, but have it on the stacks, and just may move it up sooner.

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