The BookBrowse Review

Got a question? Click here!

The BookBrowse Review

Published May 21, 2014

ISSN: 1930-0018

printable version
You are viewing a sample edition of The BookBrowse Review for members. To learn more about membership, click here.
Back    Next


In This Edition of
The BookBrowse Review

Highlighting indicates debut books

Editor's Introduction
Hardcovers Paperbacks
First Impressions
Recommended for Book Clubs
Publishing Soon


Historical Fiction

Short Stories/Essays



Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Alternate History


History, Science & Current Affairs

Young Adults



  • Blog:
    Give Your Old Books A New Lease on Life
  • Notable:
  • Wordplay:
    O H Die H
  • Quote:
    A library is thought in cold storage
Book Jacket

The Hollow Ground
by Natalie S. Harnett
13 May 2014
336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
ISBN-13: 9781250041982

mail to a friend   

BookBrowse members resident in the USA can request free review copies of books through our First Impressions program. Below are their opinions on one such book...

Write your own review

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Liz D. (Northbrook, IL)

Hollow Ground
Set against the Anthracite Coal Region of Pennsylvania, Hollow Ground explores relationships between and among multigenerational family members, as told through the lens of the daughter, Brigid. She has problems finding a sense of permanence and home.

Author Natalie Harnett introduces us to life in the coal region and the family, then turns and twists the plot along the way, revealing unpredictable long kept family

Despite the unusual dark setting and dysfunctional family relationships, I really enjoyed a fast-paced read, full of complex characters and an attention-grabbing plot.
Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Emily G. (Clear Lake, MN)

Compelling narrator
I was intrigued by the setting of this novel--a city on top of a coal mine fire--but from the first few lines of The Hollow Ground, I was captivated by the young narrator's voice. She's a clever girl who is learning about the troubles in her family while trying to discover who she is. Harnett tells a not-unusual coming-of-age story cleverly by allowing the terrain, the gaping holes and fire slowly consuming the town, to parallel the story-line. Harnett tells a layered story with a series of vivid characters. Well worth the time for readers who enjoy character driven fiction.
Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Kat F. (Palatine, IL)

It pulled me in and didn't let go
I started this book when I received it a month or two ago. Life got in the way and I had to put it down. Last week on a cruise I started it again and just couldn't put it down. It is truly an engrossing story on a couple of levels. I had watched a program a year or two ago about the Centralia coal fires. Learning more about the fires and how the families living in the area dealt with the situation on a daily basis was very interesting on it's own. Add in the personal story of Bridgid and her family, along with the secrets and intrigue associated with those secrets, and you've got one of the best novels I've read in the past several years.
Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Robin M. (Newark, DE)

The Hollow Ground will leave a hole in your heart
I wanted to read this book because it begins when I am a baby and takes place not far from where I live. The book focuses almost completely on the local area and local events, with little reference to national historical events, which is perfect, as it only adds to the isolated feeling the characters experience throughout the book.

The Hollow Ground is a haunting story, that I completely enjoyed, despite the meanness of some of the characters and the sadness they caused each other.

If you enjoy historical fiction and learning about some of the less known occurrences in US history, I highly recommend this book.
Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Loralee B. (Madison, WI)

The Hollow Ground
I liked this book even though it took a while to get into it. The characters are well written though they made me angry at their ignorance and lack of compassion. It was interesting to see how names showed Brigid's emotions: those she loved had nicer sounding names like "Daddy" and "Auntie" while those less kindly had short hard names like "Ma" and "Gram". You could feel their character by how Brigid identified them. The history was vivid and the story of a young girl's strength reminded me of the characters in "The Orphan Train".
Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Mary M. (Lexington, KY)

Fires and Secrets
The coal fires in 1960's Pennsylvania provide the background for this book. The story is narrated by Brigid a young girl and revolves around her family. The family has to deal with hardship and turmoil some of which is caused by the fires and some caused by family secrets. Brigid is determined to uncover these secrets. This book is a family saga, historical novel and a mystery. I really enjoyed it and think it would be an excellent choice for book clubs.
Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Celia A. (Takoma Park, MD)

Less than I hoped for
I was interested to read a book set against the backdrop of the Centralia mine fires. But this book turned out to be less than I hoped for. I found it distracting to set the story in the context of a real historical event and then make up place names for it. In terms of the story itself, I felt no real connection to the characters. The only one that I felt came close to being fleshed out was the narrator. And her story was so overly melodramatic that I found myself thinking what more could possibly happen to this kid.
Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Diane D. (Blairstown, NJ)

Sad, but a good read
I wanted to read this book, because we live fairly close to the area where it's set. Also, my daughter & grandsons had visited there, and I'd just read Bill Bryson's book, A Walk in the Woods, which mentioned his visit there.

The family backgrounds of the characters were disturbing and sad, and there weren't too many "happy" moments in the book, but it was one of those books that you just "had" to keep reading till the end.

I liked the book and would recommend it to book clubs, if only for the discussions it would engender. The book would be an eye-opener to young people, as to how people lived back then, as well.


Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.