My Chemical Mountain by Corina Vacco; Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 192 pages ($16.99). Ages 14 and up.
My Chemical Mountain, is in essence, a “coming of age” novel. It could be argued it is geared toward the young male reader but is in no way limited to just the teenage boy. Author, Corina Vacco, has created three, very real main characters that are so truly human in their essence, they are relatable to anyone.
The story takes place in the fictional town of Poxton, NY—a Buffalo suburb—and alludes to many Western New York references, making this pretend place very recognizable to any reader who has spent any time in the Greater Buffalo Area.
Vacco’s imagery captures the heart and soul of a rust belt town. Her local references to “the 990,” Two Mile Creek, and the Erie County Fair personalize the Western New Yorker’s reading experience.
The novel takes place in the present time. In the story, three teenage boys are nearing the end of their summer vacation, ready to begin high school. They live in a blue-collar town where most residents are laborers, dependent on factory jobs at the local chemical company. The chemical company is irresponsible and has a long history of polluting the neighborhood. Each character, for his own personal reason, wants revenge against the chemical company. The boys lash out as a result of death, disease, and unemployment.
This is not just a story about pollution. Vacco examines the profoundness of the working class psyche and compels the reader to consider that no solution is ever black and white.
Through the novel’s series of events, each boy is forced to grapple with “being careful what they wish for.” A life lesson all too familiar with us all: craving change more than anything else but terrified of what that change will bring with it.
Vacco has also created an array of supporting characters who are vividly portrayed. Character cameos remain seared in the reader’s mind, many serving as comic relief in a dark tale.
A MUST READ for anyone of any age living, or once part of the Western New York and Buffalo-Niagara region. Vacco’s non-stop action and riveting story plot makes this novel a re-read over and over. At its crux, it examines the importance of fighting rather than fleeing and making a difference for the better despite all uncertain odds; and, that monsters and heroes alike can come in all shapes and sizes.
Available at amazon.com, major book chains, and coming soon to your local, independent bookstore.
Danielle S Morgera