The Breaker Boys
Scorned and rejected from an upper-class way of life because of a father's pride, thirteen-year-old Christen Saurich and her family are uprooted and thrust into unsuspecting turmoil and intrigue awaiting them in a small town in Pennsylvania. Her father's cousin, Heinri, along with his wife Anna and son Sam, help them settle in a small mining town where her father has taken a job.
Shortly after her family moves to the coal patch, her father is killed in a mining accident. With nowhere to turn and no resources, Chris takes a job to help support her mother and sister, Gezzelle.
Disguised as a boy, she takes a job in the coal breakers. It is 1899 when a blind eye is turned toward child labor and child abuse. It's grueling work. She sits hunched over for hours, separating impurities from the newly mined coal while breathing in noxious dust.
It is a noisy and filthy place. Many high-spirited boys lose their lives falling into the chutes, smothered by an avalanche of coal, or are mangled in the massive machinery.
Fear, despair, and solitude become her teachers. Stern and relentless, she learns from them. Time pushes her forward into a stark and unforgiving way of life. Chris's faith and unrelenting courage are consistently challenged. Foreboding times are approaching: influenza, devastating mine explosions, and finally a miners' strike that leaves them in despair.
Addie Paige comes into their lives, and everything changes. A new path is forged, and finally hope is within their grasp.