by Katherine Leiner

March 2004
ISBN: 0-451-21160-X
Reviewer Graphic Button New American Library
Trade Paperback

Digging Out is a fictional account of a disaster that actually happened in a small mining town. Aberfan, Wales was devastated. Houses were completely buried beneath the wet earth, schools were mired in muck, and farms were destroyed. The citizens would never fully recover from the loss of lives that fateful day.

Alys Davies physically survived the tragedy. However, her emotional endurance would take years to recover. Alys’ loss was many-sided. People whom she may not have known as well as others, but was used to seeing around town. Children she went to school with and her own best friend. These losses alone were difficult enough for a child to deal with then there was her father. Many in the town blamed him for the catastrophe. As a result, he turned to alcohol to help him deal with his own inner struggles. Alys’ mother could not deal with the pressure and becomes emotionally alienated by her own design. Eventually, Alys finds solace in a young man, Evan, who becomes her rock, if only that had been enough.

Thirty years later, Alys is in the U.S. She is married, has children and a fruitful career as a poet. Her past is safely tucked away separated from the person she is today. Unfortunately, it takes another tragedy for her to come to terms with the fact that she has to face her demons in order to be a true survivor. Alys returns to her birthplace to find deliverance.

Author Katherine Leiner has written a beautiful, yet haunting portrayal of the awesome endurance of the human heart. From the first word, to the last the reader is captured by Leiner’s thoughtful prose. She has taken the reader inside of the heroine’s heart as it were, to know and observe that loss, however painful, is a part of life. It is vicissitudes we endure that enables us with resilient strength. Digging Out, the debut novel by Katherine Leiner is a must for readers everywhere.

Reviewed in August 2004 by Rho.

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