30 Days of Summer Reads: Bad Ground

Jul 10, 2009Write!

Bad Ground by W. Dale Cramer, Bethany House.

I didn’t think a book about blasting holes in the earth would appeal to me, but Cramer’s eloquent and haunting prose drew me in. As I read, I remembered the feeling I got when I first read Christy by Katherine Marshall, that although both wrote about people I don’t normally encounter (miners, folks from Appalacia), their taut characterizations made me want to befriend the characters, giving me a desire to spend my life peeling away the layers of all types of folks, elevating the dignity of every human being.

Though I was sometimes bogged down by the technicalities of the mining operation, I found myself cheering for the protagonist, an orphaned boy becoming a man. Cramer has a lovely way with language, so beautiful I wanted to savor his words—words like “Burrowed into his sleeping bag, he slept as one who has no else to be, and the stars kissed his sleep like a mother” (p. 16). If you are looking for a literary work with a redemptive message, Cramer’s Bad Ground will satisfy.