Fire in the Hole!

By Mary Cronk Farrell

Fourteen-year-old Mick doesn’t want to end up like his father, a rough-hewn miner working for low wages in the Coeur d’Alene silver-mining district of Idaho. He doesn’t like the militant, often confrontational approach of his father’s union as the men struggle against an uncaring mine owner and would rather do his fighting with words like his mentor, Mr. Delaney, who runs the town newspaper. But when a handful of radicals blow up the mining company’s ore-concentrating mill, Mick’s dreams blow up with it. Federal soldiers put the town under martial law and arrest every man in it, including Mick, his father and even Mr. Delaney, the newspaper publisher. Mick’s mother is terribly ill and his little sisters are hungry, and Mick realizes that he is his family’s only chance for survival. He must escape and do the one thing he swore he’d never do—join the scabs working in the mines. As the story ends, Mick is determined to use his knowledge and writing skills to speak out in the cause of struggling miners everywhere.

—Featured in the UCS Labor Books Catalog