The Evening Hour: A Novel
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The Evening Hour: A Novel

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3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  175 ratings  ·  49 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, reselli...more
Paperback, 327 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Bloomsbury USA
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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...more
Rose Mary Achey
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 Co...more
Nerak
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
Jessie
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
Elizabeth
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...more
Jay
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
Sue
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
Cheri
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!
Darleen
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.
Paul
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
Larry Hoffer
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...more
Kat
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...more
Tim
Feb 09, 2012 Tim rated it 4 of 5 stars
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, i...more
Libby
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...more
Vickie
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...more
Dave
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
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...more
Ruthie
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 describ...more
Larry
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
Patrick
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
Roberta
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
Rachel
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...more
Andrea
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.
Jaclyn
A disappointing read. Not only were there typos in the copy I read, but the lack of character development was irritating. The author chose a lot of extremely rich themes to write about, but none were fully fleshed out. I wanted to see some kind of resolution--not necessarily happy, because that clearly wasn't happening--just something to make the story end on a note that wasn't so flat.
Roberta
Not a pretty view of West Virginia coal mining towns. The very likeable protagonists steals prescription drugs from his nursing home patients to resell to the desperate residents of his small town, which is washed away in a Buffalo Creek-like disaster. Salvation comes from leaving town. Still, and engaging and slightly hopeful read in spite of the unhappy setting.
Barb
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.
Echo Sun
This is a very dark read in a very real world sense, not to be confused with fantasy dark. I honestly would not have read this book if it were not assigned. I feel a bit tinged by reading it, but I believe that may be the intent on some level, a sort of wake-up call for all of us living under the sludge dam, be it metaphorically or literally.
Steve
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.
Carolee Luberto
I loved this book...truly. I was rooting for the anti hero throughout. I hope Mr. Sickels writes many many more wonderful, thoughtful and lyrical books. If you loved Jane Hamilton's Map of the World and Book of Ruth look no further for your next great read.
Carol
Carter Sickels has written a moving, engrossing story about Appalachia. I enjoy Silas House's works, and Mr. Sickels shows a similar affection for the region and its people. Deeply affecting in spots and always a great story peopled by interesting characters.
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Carter Sickels lives in Portland, Oregon. THE EVENING HOUR is his first novel.
More about Carter Sickels...
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