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February 28 , 2011

When We Get There

A Novel


Over the course of one winter in 1974, in the coal-mining town of Banning, Pennsylvania, the youngest member of a large and boisterous Eastern European family gives himself a tall order: to find his mother, who recently disappeared without explanation. Lucas, an only child whose father died several years earlier in a coa-mine blast, lives with the legacy of loss. Despite his heavy inheritance, Lucas is still just a thirteen-year-old boy puzzling out the world around him. He shuttles between the homes of his family elders whose old-world ways he can't quite understand. When Zoli, his mother's embittered admirer, takes it upon himself to find his lost love, violence and retribution escalate until no one, especially Lucas, is safe. As he struggles to find his place in this unsettling landscape, Lucas's extended family and close-knit ethnic community circle around him. Set against the collapse of the industry that has sustained the family and the town for generations, When We Get There is a startling tale of one family's long winter-and the spring that eventually comes hard on winter's heels.

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