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The Evening Hour

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  258 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
Most of the wealth in Dove Creek, West Virginia, is in the earth-in the coal seams that have provided generations with a way of life. Born and raised here, twenty-seven-year-old Cole Freeman has sidestepped work as a miner to become an aide in a nursing home. He's got a shock of bleached blond hair and a gentle touch well suited to the job. He's also a drug dealer, ...more
Paperback, 327 pages
Published January 23rd 2012 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 17th 2012)
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Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Review contains some discussion that might be considered spoilers. But its essential for the review.

Maybe I shouldn't have tried to read this book. I might be too close to the subject matter. But that's exactly what drew me to The Evening Hour. I keep waiting for that book that gets Appalachia, that understands the complicated relationship we have with coal. My mother works in mine permitting, consulting coal companies, climbing mountains and mapping streams. She's worked directly for coal compa
RoseMary Achey
Feb 17, 2012 RoseMary Achey rated it really liked it
Carter Sickels sets this contemporary novel in a West Virginia community where a multimillion dollar mining coming is removing the tops of mountains and extracting the remaining coal from the earth. The characters are the real Americans; they are not attractive, smart, rich, educated or worldly. They live within the confines of a small community with little opportunity and few dreams. The central character is Cole Freeman. He is 27 years old and works as an aide in a nursing home. In addition ...more
Dec 11, 2012 Jessie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Cole Freeman is a wonderfully textured character: a nursing home aide that tenderly cares for the elderly while stealing from them and selling drugs on the side; abandoned by his mom; raised by his grandparents in the fire of his granddad's harsh sermons. Cole's hunger and restlessness drive the book with a really solid throb: "What do I have? he thought. Pain pills, stashed cash, and jewelry he'd stolen from old doddering ladies. A stack of postcards. And a thousand useless Bible verses" (78). ...more
May 28, 2013 Nerak rated it liked it
Shelves: bought
Setting, setting, setting: A well-written portrayal of life in the backwoods and hollers of today's Appalachia. Cole Freeman (ha! get it?) lives in Dove Creek, West Virginia, in the heart of coal-mining country, where the beauty of the land and the way of life of the people are being devastated by the corporate coal-mining companies. In the face of overwhelming and soul-crushing poverty, people are selling their ancestral homes and land to the mining companies that are scraping the tops off the ...more
Sarah B.
Jan 16, 2015 Sarah B. rated it liked it
Shelves: given-away
This was a good read. No surprises, but solid storytelling. The main character, Cole (whose name is a little too on the nose for most readers), is a likeable underdog who is doing well for himself with small-time illegal drug trading in a fast-decaying rural town. He is too smart to ignore the twin lurking disasters in his life: the environmental and social damage caused by the growing coal business, and his inevitable arrest as the local police start a crack-down on drug dealers.

The book is mel
Dec 21, 2012 Jay rated it it was amazing
This novel will take you on a very personal journey where you will admire a character in one sentence and despise that same character by the end of that same paragraph. A raw and honest voice guides the trip and keeps things moving along. I found myself uncomfortably examining the "what if" situations of the life's of my own and my loved ones in so many instances. Sickles has made a great addition not only to rough South, or grit lit, or whatever you want to tag this novel, but also just a dang ...more
Apr 04, 2012 Elizabeth rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Most of us have met and cared about a Cole Freeman. He is the guy you root for even though the deck is stacked against him. Burdened with responsibility and an EPIC lack of self-confidence/worth, Cole seems helpless to change his circumstances. Poverty, a low paying job, and too much responsibility for others have Cole feeling like there is no way out.

And yet, every once in awhile he has a moment of clarity and you just HOPE FOR HIM. In the end, this is his story and everything else is just noi
Mar 21, 2012 Cheri rated it it was ok
I read this book for book group. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for such a depressing story, but I was hard pressed to give this 2 stars. It was an easy read and I was curious about what would happen to the main character, but overall I thought it was poorly written. I just wasn't in the mood to read about a lot of druggies, small town poverty,and their pathetic lives while Spring has sprung in NH and the weather here is beautiful!
Aug 29, 2012 Darleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Compelling novel set in West Virginia. A story of transformation, redemption of sorts, and making peace; rich with elements of Appalachian culture/beliefs. I really felt I was back in Appalachia...This novel felt real and true. Excellent story that winds religion, environmentalism, drug addiction, poverty, despair, and transformation together.
Nov 28, 2016 Terre rated it it was amazing
Breathtaking. Anyone who cares about great writing, real people, and the environment should read this book. I was floored by Carter Sickel's writing style, way of telling a story and the "realness" of his characters who are flawed but each beautiful and stark.
Larry Hoffer
Sep 08, 2013 Larry Hoffer rated it liked it
I'd rate this 3.5 stars.

Twenty-seven-year-old Cole Freeman has lived in rural Dove County, West Virginia for his entire life. Raised by his snake-handling pastor grandfather and his doting grandmother, he has never felt completely comfortable, although he lacks the motivation to make changes. Cole works as an aide in a nursing home, and many of the elderly residents take to him for his gentle manner and willingness to indulge them by listening to their stories and not dissuading them when they c
Feb 09, 2012 Tim rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I love it when I stumble across a book that ends up being a gratifying read.

That's what happened with The Evening Hour , Carter Sickels' debut novel. I saw a short review of it somewhere but don't remember what it was that prompted me to put it on the reserve list at the library. Even after I brought it home I almost didn't read it. The description on the back cover just didn't sound like the type of book I like. I gave it a chance and after reading it in two sittings over less than 24 hours,
Feb 18, 2012 Kat rated it really liked it
I won’t re-summarise the story of The Evening Hour as the synopsis says it all. This is an often bleak, sometimes depressing story with some shocking insights into the dramatics and politics of a small town, ravaged by poverty, drugs and the mining industry.

I found it easy to sympathise, in some ways, with Cole and the way he cared for the elderly and isolated residents of the nursing home where he works and the areas surrounding the town, despite the fact that he was buying their prescription
May 01, 2014 Sue rated it it was amazing
Another book that makes me doubt my writing ability. So good. This is the story of a man, Cole, and a community living in the shadow of a coal mining operation that is destroying the land around them. Cole grew up with his Pentecostal grandparents, having seen his mother only once at age ten. Now 27, he is working as a nursing home aide and earning money on the side by buying old people’s unused prescription drugs and selling them to junkies. The death of his grandfather, an unexpected arrival, ...more
May 12, 2012 Libby rated it it was amazing
A compelling read. I didn't think this was a character that I was going to warm to, but I grew to care about him and his community. Really like how the old people were presented without stereotyping, each is different in his or her own way.

Cole works as a nurses aide in a nursing home with a little drug dealing on the side. He was abandoned by his mother soon after his birth and was raised by his fundamentalist grandparents. The coal company is one of the area's main employers, so even though m
Dec 31, 2012 Vickie rated it liked it
I guess I have a penchant for Appalachian tales and this was one I almost didn't read. Especially with the holidays here, I thought the material would be too hard to read. But, I'm so glad I did. Cole was a complex character. He had a good heart and was so kind to the elderly he worked with at his job as a nursing home aide. But, he also supplemented his income and that of others by selling their prescription drugs.
His mother left when he was about 4 and he was raised by his snake handling prea
Aug 31, 2012 Dave rated it liked it
This was a good summer read and a departure from some of the pure action books I ususally read. The setting in West Virginia coal mining country is both beautiful and bleak. The protagonist is a confused young man who has a good heart, but is a thief and prescription drug dealer. I found myself wanting him to escape his situation, but also questioning what he would be running towards. His family and history was rooted in West Virginia. If he ran to a larger city, he would be connected to no one. ...more
Katie Q
Dec 08, 2011 Katie Q rated it really liked it
This is a book for our current times. In the USA and Australia in particular there are small communities suffering from the mining companies. Sure this may be extreme the story told here but it is none the less possible, if not actually happening. Certainly in the poorer countries there are whole towns/villages being decimated.

The whole social fabric of a small town that is at the lower end of the socio-economic scale can suffer by false promises of mining companies.

This book is fiction but it m
May 27, 2012 Ruthie rated it really liked it
I love when I grab a book because I can't find anything else to read, and it turns out to be a satisfying, challenging read. A topical setting - a mountain region in the Appalachians, coal mining, drug infestations, complicated familial relationships, torn friendships, challenging- sometimes even repellant, characters, this book had it all. Oh, and snakes! My opinions of the characters kept changing, they were well rounded, difficult and yet somehow, lovable. The author managed to richly ...more
Feb 08, 2012 Patrick rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. The character development and the emotions tied to each one were spectacular. Natural disasters, death, friendship, love, all something part of the story. The plot itself was not one familiar to a large population of folks as it describes life in the hills of West Virigina, however, it was no less entertaining. A extremely quick read I believe. Thought the story was well put together. Throughout the entire story there was some air of doubt about everything. What would ...more
Sep 17, 2012 Larry rated it it was ok
Very sad book about the destruction caused by surface mining, as well as the poverty, drugs, and lack of education, in West Virginia. I haven't read a book in a long time in which there just wasn't a protagonist you could connect with. Although I understand that every character reflected a tragic aspect of the situation (i.e., poverty, lack of education, etc.) in too many parts of West Virginia, it was still a rough book to get through because I just couldn't connect with any aspect of it. That ...more
Jul 20, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
This book tells the story of a man named Cole who works as an aid in a nursing home in a rural town in the heart of coal mining country in West Virginia. Cole is a loner, raised by his strict religious grandparents. Cole feeds,bathes,shops and takes care of the old people not just at the nursing home but all throughout the holler. Unfortunately Cole is also a drug dealer, who peddles the surplus drugs of these old people. Many of the people he deals to or buys from are real characters. The area ...more
Aug 24, 2012 Roberta rated it really liked it
This book takes place in the mountains of West Virginia. The events which occur are similar to happenings which I've read have actually occurred in nearby states. I was ready to categorize this book as a future classic. The profuse profanity within may or may not inhibit that. It is a must reading for the youth of America to make them aware of what is presently occurring within our country in regard to our quest for its natural resources. Corporate America sometimes stops at nothing & limits ...more
Rebecca Elswick
Aug 07, 2016 Rebecca Elswick rated it it was amazing
This wonderfully dark book, THE EVENING HOUR, was one of the best books set in Appalachia that I have read in a very long time. The character Cole Freeman and his dysfunctional family and friends are so real that I feel like I've met them before. I cared for Cole; I screamed at Cole; I wanted to hug Cole while shouting in his ear, "Don't do it!" The tragedy that happens at the end of the book is just the culmination of their already tragic existence in the mountains of West Virginia where their ...more
Jan 28, 2012 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Yes this book is about a drug dealing guy who steals from the nursing home where he works. It's about a town in West Virginia where the coal industry is destroying everything.
But it's also about everybody having a story that matters. Everybody has dreams and everybody has choices to make.
The author took these universal themes, and crafted this unique story with these crazy characters whom you would seemingly have nothing in common with but somehow can totally understand.
Whether or not any of
Jun 30, 2013 Andrea rated it it was amazing
If you know what's good, go read this gripping, sad, beautiful novel about a young guy living in a West Virginia mountain town devastated by Big Coal.

Sickels taught the very first creative writing class I ever took, at Gotham in NYC back in 2000; he was incredibly kind then and I see that generosity now towards his characters, who include a drug-dealing nurse's aide, a mean preacher-grandpa, a wayward mother, various environmentalists and meth-heads, and a tough country queen.
Apr 15, 2013 Barb rated it liked it
I can't quite give this book 4 stars but would say 3 1/2 would be more fair. I had a little trouble getting into it and caring about the characters. It is a sad story as to what is happening in West Virginia and coal mining. It is well written but a little plodding, perhaps to give the sense that this is what life is like for so many who live in such areas.
Aug 30, 2016 Clint rated it liked it
Rather weary story about a West Virginia 20-something attempting to find himself after having been raised by grandparents, including a stern Holiness preacher grandfather, and then encountering his long-gone mother, plus the perils of romantic relationships in tiny-town Appalachia and, oh, yes, his prosperous drug dealing business (plus an environmental disaster to boot). A lot to stomach.
Jun 12, 2016 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe it's because I'm from WV and my Grandfather worked in the mines, but I loved this book. Depicts the current state of affairs in the old communities. I still go back and I still love it there. The people are real. The struggles are real. Their lives are surreal. Well written. Dialect was true without being overdone to the point of being unreadable.
Jul 21, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
Simple story about the folks in the mountains of West Virginia and the way the destruction of their home by the coal and gas companies becomes part of eveyday life. Interesting main character, you like him, he's a good guy, but he's a thief and a drug dealer who steals from the elderly. Note-I believe the author is from UNC.
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Carter Sickels lives in Portland, Oregon. THE EVENING HOUR is his first novel.
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