The Evening Hour is an emotional and compelling snapshot of one person;t life and the people that he intersects with in a small West Virginia mountain town. The largest employer is the local mining company which has been buying property from land owners in order to continue strip mining. While the residents resent the destruction, many of them cannot turn down the promise of steady employment in such a depressed area. Cole is the quintessential antihero. He cares for the elderly at the local nursing home and treats them well, pretending to be their sons when they can’t remember what year it is and attending to their every need. He is loyal and attentive to the grandparents who raised him. On the other side, he is also a thief and a drug dealer, contributing to the drug use that so may of the young people in Dove Creek fall into when there is nothing left for them. I think it was this complexity in his character that drew me into the story. I wanted Cole to succeed. I wanted him to stop feeling so beholden to everyone around him and do something to save himself. He is a character that feels powerless against his responsibilities and the hold that the mountains have on him.
Another big reason that this book felt so sincere was the research that went into writing the story. Strip mining continues in that region, and the pollution and environmental ruin that it has brought down on a once beautiful landscape is brought to life in this book. You feel as if you are standing next to Cole, hearing the old people talk about their water turning orange and the loss of their ability to hunt or fish because of the mining damage. You feel the conflict that residents feel when there is no other choice but to take a job with the mining company because there simply isn’t any other work. I loved the slow and steady transformation that comes over Cole and I loved the theme of redemption that ran so strongly through the story. This book was deep and heartfelt with wonderful characters that stay with you after you’ve finished reading.
I received this book as a galley from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.