Heat and Light

Heat and Light

Book - 2016
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A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR

Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Haigh returns to the Pennsylvania town at the center of her iconic novel Baker Towers in this ambitious, achingly human story of modern America and the conflicting forces at its heart--a bold, moving drama of hope and desperation, greed and power, big business and small-town families.

Forty years ago, Bakerton coal fueled the country. Then the mines closed, and the town wore away like a bar of soap. Now Bakerton has been granted a surprise third act: it sits squarely atop the Marcellus Shale, a massive deposit of natural gas.

To drill or not to drill? Prison guard Rich Devlin leases his mineral rights to finance his dream of farming. He doesn't count on the truck traffic and nonstop noise, his brother's skepticism or the paranoia of his wife, Shelby, who insists the water smells strange and is poisoning their frail daughter. Meanwhile his neighbors, organic dairy farmers Mack and Rena, hold out against the drilling--until a passionate environmental activist disrupts their lives.

Told through a cast of characters whose lives are increasingly bound by the opposing interests that underpin the national debate, Heat and Light depicts a community blessed and cursed by its natural resources. Soaring and ambitious, it zooms from drill rig to shareholders' meeting to the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor to the ruined landscape of the "strippins," haunting reminders of Pennsylvania's past energy booms. This is a dispatch from a forgotten America--a work of searing moral clarity from one of the finest writers of her generation, a courageous and necessary book.

Publisher: New York :, Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780061763298
Branch Call Number: FIC HAI
Characteristics: 430 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: Heat & light

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brangwinn
Nov 14, 2016

A story about gas fracking in Pennsylvania, has potential but had too many separate stories going in it to allow me to be personally involved in the story. I found none of the characters likable.

e
Earlgrey454
Jul 29, 2016

Another excellent novel written by Jennifer Haigh!

Michael Colford Jul 04, 2016

With Heat and Light, Jennifer Haigh's ambitious novel about a town experiencing its controversial second shot at life, the Bakerton trilogy comes to a close. After years of prosperity as a mining town, Bakerton, PA falls into the quintessentially American depression that comes with progress. Then unexpectedly, fracking comes to Pennsylvania, a process by which oil and natural gas is obtained.

There's nothing simple or black & white about the issues Jennifer raises in Heat and Light, as people struggle to get by suddenly find themselves with an opportunity to make some money by leasing their land to the fracking companies. In addition, drill workers are brought into town to do the work, thereby stimulating the economy to some extent. Yet environmentalists and other concerned townspeople feel very different, worry about the long term effects that fracking could cause. It is here that Haigh draws parallels to the Three-Mile Island incident and the ill-defined that catastrophe had on nearby residents.

Jennifer juggles multiple points-of-view deftly, infusing her skilled prose with the thoughts and beliefs of her character, whether it be the salesperson trying to lease a resident's land, a corporate exec, a concerned environmentalist, or a lonely bar waitress. This is a dense, complicated novel that takes on issues that are hard to dismiss. Whether Bakerton has yet another renaissance in its future is unknown, but Jennifer Haigh is certainly an author on the rise.

BostonPL_LauraB May 24, 2016

To be completely honest, I wasn't all that positive what this novel was about when I was asked to read it. Naturally, I was less than enthused to begin and it was slow to start. But then, you just get wrapped up in the fantastic writing and the lives of these poor characters as they navigate the (sometimes contaminated) waters of when an oil company moves in and starts fracking in your town. This book was bleak and compelling, yet at times uplifting. I'd definitely recommend it and think it would make for good discussion. Will pick up more by Jennifer Haigh!

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