Notown


Fiction - Southern
428 Pages
Reviewed on 07/29/2014
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Author Biography

A coal miner’s granddaughter, TESS COLLINS was born and raised in a crater. Yes, really, a crater formed by the impact of an asteroid millions of years ago where her hometown, Middlesboro, Kentucky was eventually built. Tess spent her younger years in a one room Carnegie Library reading around the room. She started at SALLY AND THE BEAR and ended with WAR AND PEACE at which time she thought, “I want to do this.”

She is the author of THE LAW OF REVENGE, THE LAW OF THE DEAD, THE LAW OF BETRAYAL, and HELEN OF TROY. Her non-fiction book HOW THEATER MANAGERS MANAGE is published by Rowman and Littlefield’s Scarecrow Press. Ms. Collins received a B.A. from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. from The Union Institute and University.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Alle Wells for Readers' Favorite

Tess Collins and Theresa Collins tell a tale of a Kentucky coal mining town during the mid-to-late 20th century. Notown is a place where survival is up to the individual, regardless of age. In 1987, Randi Jo Gaylor thinks back on her life as she stands before the man that she intends to kill in the place where she was born. As a child, hunger and the “fear angel” were Randi Jo's constant companions in the meager shack that hangs on the edge of a coal miners’ mountain. One of thirteen children, she learned to steal what she craved. Lies and secrets became her only protection. As a teenager, Randi Jo’s luck takes a turn when her beauty catches the eye of a middle-class college boy. But no matter how hard she tries, Randi Jo knows that she’s still a nobody from Notown and that’s all she’ll ever be. Randi Jo is forced from a world where she doesn’t belong into the dark underworld she promised herself she’d never enter. Each day brings her closer to the realization that there are few choices for a poor girl from Notown.

Notown is a powerfully written story presented with hard, biting-edge characters bound by strong roots. Members of the Gaylor family are both lovable and horrifying. Randi Jo is raised by faithful and loving parents who possess an amazing sense of serenity amid the squalor of Notown. Her siblings are a blend of good and bad, tough and frail. I highly recommend Randy Jo’s story of ultimate survival. Some say that she has nine lives. After reading her story, I believe that is true.