"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be."

-Shel Silverstein



by: Jennifer Haigh

Bakerton is a community of company houses and church festivals, of union squabbles and fireman's parades. Its neighborhoods include Little Italy, Swedetown, and Polish Hill. For its tight-knit citizens - and the five children of the Novak family - the 1940s will be a decade of excitement, tragedy, and stunning chance. Baker Towers is a family saga and a love story, a hymn to a time and place long gone, to America's industrial past, and to the men and women we now call the Greatest Generation. It is a feat of imagination from extraordinary voice in American Fiction, a writer of enormous power and skill.

One of my favorite authors, Jennifer Haigh, wrote this fantastic book set in the mining town of Bakerton in the 1940's. As with her other books, Mrs. Kimble and The Condition, each chapter rotates between the characters, this time, all members of the Novak family. The novel starts with the death of the Novak's father which brings about flashbacks from the oldest children. From the flashbacks to the present, you get to see how the family works, from both the mother's point of view and the children. George, Dorothy, Joyce, Sandy, and Lucy all tell their stories that span from their younger years in elementary school to their adventures when they try and leave Bakerton to find a better life, to their return to aid their mother or to simply visit the family they left behind. I wasn't too sure about this book when I first picked it up because it just didn't sound that interesting; I didn't really want to read a novel about a mining town. After starting it though, my thoughts changed. It was so interesting to see every family member's perspective on their other siblings, their internal conflicts, and their own thoughts about Bakerton. Each one gets out of the city at some point, and while some are drawn back in, others thrive on their own. You also get to see how their past affects their own families they start; some carry on the traditions passed on, others ignore their past altogether. This was such a good book that reinforced why Jennifer Haigh is one of my favorite authors.

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