Bad Ground is the second book written by W. Dale Cramer. I bought it after reading his first book, Sutter’s Cross ( a great friend sent it to me and I can’t thank her enough).
Seventeen year old Jeremy Prine’s mother dies, leaving him a letter. In the letter is her last request: to find his estranged uncle, his father’s brother, a bitter rock miner. Once Jeremy finds his uncle there ensues a long train of events, eventually leading to his growing up and his uncle’s forgiveness.
I really, really like the way he words things. I have a real thing for words that flow like legato rather than staccato. 😉
Why I liked it:
#1. This book is written in a down to earth manner, you’re in touch with the characters from the start.
#2. At first you think Jeremy is just a baby, afraid of everything, naive. But still, you feel sorta sorry for him and root for him to keep on.
#3. Snake’s reaction to his nephew’s arrival and subsequent job is hilarious. As are the rest of the men’s reactions.
#4. Weasel, Nanny and Geech bring in a ton of humor. Like when Weasel goes to talk to Jimmy Carter. Or when Jeremy rides the deer and the ribbing that follows. Or Nanny and Weasel’s argument.
#5. When Kearston first meets Snake, even though she’s scared of him, she does well during the introductions- quite impressing Snake. 😉
#6. Even though Biggins keeps trying to tear Jeremy down (calling him names, making him tote around his toolbox, and such), he doesn’t give in. Moss helps him stay on his feet by reminding him of scripture and encouraging him.
#7. My absolute favorite part is when Jeremy gets stuck in the cutterhead. Snake gives the go ahead to turn it on and in the next few minutes Jeremy has a brush with death. Cramer did an amazing job describing this scene. Biggins, of course, takes this moment to mock Jeremy (whom he calls Germy). Jeremy’s response is priceless.
#8. The fight with his uncle over the boombox. Jeremy’s humility was refreshing to see (or rather, read).
#9. When Geech is depressed, Jeremy goes to great lengths to cheer him up (seriously, check page 279).
#10. The ending is perfect. I can’t vouch for all of Cramer’s books (as I haven’t read them all) but this one is great.
#11. Meg’s ferocity when she found out Jeremy was a minor miner.
I’d give it 4 books.
Reasons I wasn’t too enthralled:
#1. Cramer sometimes went a little too far in his descriptions (ie, Geech’s injury).
#2. The story about Snake’s cat was, eh, strange.
#3. The Perry guy was also weird.
#4. Ahem, the strange bathroom part in the woods.
All in all, I would recommend this to anyone over the age of 14 (if you’re younger you may not understand all of it). It’s funny, sad, sweet, gripping- you could finish it in a day.
This book is amazingly good. I didn’t expect it to be as good as it is when I read it. Seeing as most modern writers today don’t seem to be capable of writing a gripping good book.