Book Review: Bad Ground

23 Jun

badgroundSMPoignant and thought provoking, this is a down-to-earth, sometimes humorous novel filled with suspense, action, redemption, and even romance. Seventeen-year-old Jeremy Prine decides to honor his mother’s dying wish and seek out his estranged uncle who was badly burned in the accident that killed Jeremy’s father. He ¹nds the man working as a hard-rock miner in the south, an extremely dangerous occupation. His uncle seems a bitter and lonely man, but Jeremy senses more beneath the surface. Against his uncle’s wishes, Jeremy takes a job as a miner and soon his young faith is tested by his rough and gritty co-workers, the threat of danger … and the possibility of love.



dalecramer1Dale Cramer spent his formative years traveling the world as an Army brat, then settled in Georgia at the age of fifteen when his father retired.

After high school he became an electrician, a job that took him to places as diverse as power plants, stadia, airports, high-rise office buildings and a hard-rock mining operation.

Twenty-five years of experiences in the trades provided him with the wealth of characters, stories and insights that populate his novels.

When he married his childhood friend, Pam, in 1975 he had no way of knowing they would not have children until fifteen years later.

In his early forties, when Dale left his job to become a stay-at-home dad, he suddenly found himself with time on his hands, so he pursued a lifelong dream and taught himself to write.

Using an online writer’s forum as a training ground, he wrote his first short stories in 1996. As his writing skills improved he turned to novels, publishing his first book, Sutter’s Cross, in 2003.

Since then, Dale has published four more novels and garnered a measure of critical acclaim with two Christy Awards, a listing among Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2004 and numerous other Best lists. Dale and his wife Pam live in Georgia with their two sons.

My Impressions:

About a week ago, Carole over at The Power of Words recommended a book by Dale Cramer (Summer of Light). Because she has excellent insight and I trust her recommendations, I immediately downloaded that book. Upon perusal of my bookshelves, I discovered another of Cramer’s earlier books that I had not read. I’m not sure where I picked it up, maybe a Friends of The Library sale, but it was even signed! Having won a Christy Award in 2004, and since the awards for this year will be announced tonight, I decided it would be my next just-for-fun read. Wow! I can’t believe what an excellent read Bad Ground turned out to be. Not currently available directly from Amazon, you can still order it from third parties. It is worth the little bit of work it might to take to find it — it is excellent and very highly recommended.

Jeremy Prine’s mother has died from cancer. The seventeen year old has only a handful of possessions and memories and a letter from his mother telling him to find his Uncle Aiden. Aiden disappeared from his family’s life some ten years previous following the the accident that left Jeremy’s father dead and Aiden horribly scarred. With just a duffel bag and a determination to find out what his mother’s mysterious letter might mean, Jeremy hitchhikes from his home in the Tennessee hills to the south side of Atlanta in search of answers.

Bad Ground is a gritty novel unlike most of the offerings in the Christian market. The characters are not rich or beautiful — these men live hard and work hard, carrying the physical and emotional scars of lives lived on the edge. But although the life of hard-rock mining is far removed from my everyday life, I could identify with these men and their struggles to survive in a dangerous world. Cramer does an excellent job of making the people and locale in the novel come to life. It is amazing that the setting of the novel, a mining site at a waste treatment plant, becomes so real and so right. Cramer has a way of describing things that makes even this bleak setting beautiful. His insights on people and their wounds makes this novel a must read for those looking for a rich reading experience. And I think you are going to love the worship scenes at the very unconventional church that Jeremy attends. God’s grace as expressed through the forgiveness offered by His people is a powerful theme.

If you want a novel that will take you into a very different world and leave you longing for more, then definitely pick up Bad Ground. You won’t be disappointed. Thanks Carole!

Very Highly Recommended. 

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