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Phoenixville Rising

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  154 ratings  ·  35 reviews
“PHOENIXVILLE RISING is a beautifully written love letter to the American industrial town. In a novel spanning centuries, and centering on three hard-luck kids, Sketch and Tara and the unforgettable Boo -- clear-eyed and reckless and insanely-loyal Boo -- Robb Cadigan gives us a timeless story of the enduring legacies of love and friendship. Noir and romantic and richly em ...more
Paperback, 323 pages
Published October 1st 2013 by Rodgers Forge Press (first published September 25th 2013)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  154 ratings  ·  35 reviews

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Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I was really disappointed in this book until I decided it really should be a Young Adult book in spite of the adult story bookends. There is something about the style of writing or the fairly simplistic storyline that just didn't click for me unless it was YA. That isn't an insult considering how successful some YA books have been lately, but I don't think the right target audience was chosen. Maybe using the few swear words was more important than opening up the audience since maybe you can't u ...more
Josh Gould
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous book with unforgettable characters! An insightful look into the cultural impact of economic transition, capturing both the beginnings of the industrial revolution and the beginnings of the transition from an industrial to a data/service driven economy, which is still underway today. Robb Cadigan's fiction is historically very plausible as well as emotionally engaging. Each time he moves from one era to the other you find yourself almost regretting stepping away from one story line, but ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Past and present intertwine; how much of life do we determine, and what is determined for us? Robb explores these themes and more in Phoenixville Rising. Beautifully imagined and written, the old Phoenixville comes alive in a story that spans a week - and a lifetime. I felt the tidal pull of the past on the present and the present on the past as the story pulled me along in its wake. I found myself trying to plunge into Phoenixville-then to change events - because I came to care so much about th ...more
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't want to give too much away but the girl in this book is me. If you ask Robb he will strongly deny it, but I'm not ashamed to admit he and I are old friends and he's just one of a million teenage boys crushing on me when we were kids. Now that I've gotten that fantasy writing out of the way, please see my blog post (forthcoming) for more details of this delightful coming of age tale. It's good stuff. ...more
Carrie Panetta
Mar 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an enjoyable read set in my hometown. The author really captured the spirit of the place.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Since Phoenixville is my hometown, I recognized all of the locations mentioned throughout the book. However, I don’t know how enjoyable this book would be to folks who have never lived in Phoenixville, since the location is a very integral part of the story. Like other reviewers have mentioned, the book felt more like a YA novel, and I felt it would have been better without Rebecca Wilton’s story so more time could have been devoted to developing the other characters, like Deacon and the other F ...more
Jean Szegedy
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
It was ok for a simple, easy read. I found it interesting to see another person’s take on Phoenixville in the 1980’s. The writing and character development, in my opinion, was more suited to the teen reader.
Jason Bennett
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic blend of historical fiction, Outsiders style coming of age story, and reflection on ones childhood as a parent!
June J.
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Reading a finely crafted piece of historical literature set in a time and place one knows, but has only read about, is one thing. But to read one that is set in the almost too familiar surroundings of one’s own home town is another. And that is exactly what local author Robb Cadigan has done in his first novel, "Phoenixville Rising", a coming-of-age fictional tale that perfectly captures Phoenixville’s essence, flavor, and sense of history. A metaphor, for that matter, for any small American tow ...more
Sep 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: recommended
Robb Cadigan’s debut novel is a wonderfully vivid portrait of a town, of a way of life and of the people who inhabit it today and who created it over a century ago.
Through parallel narratives perceptively woven together, the author connects the birth death and resurrection of a quintessentially American industrial town through the love, courage and loyalty of unlikely heroes past and present. His two central characters are authentic and richly drawn but are heroes no less unlikely as they evoke
Oct 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Being from Phoenixville, I liked the setting - even the intentionally vague places were familiar. And he didn't need to be descriptive with the library, the corner store, the steel mill, etc. because they were MY library, corner store and steel mill. Phoenixville was a main character in this book and I loved it. Five stars.
The plot was good but I felt it lacking some. It took me a long time to get into the Rebecca story and when I finally did, it ended shortly afterward. The teenage years were t
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ending nearly had me in tears

I need to search for more information on Phoenixville. The characters were endearing, at least the ones who were meant to be. I know the idea of happy endings is passe in modern fiction, and I expected the characters would come to sad endings, but that isn't what I found saddest about the story. Coming from a working class background myself, I hoped that Phoenixville would "rise" in a way which celebrated the American worker. But no: It seemed to celebrate anythi
Janet Ursel
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Cadigan writes with care, and discreet touches of poetic language are testimony to his awareness of the power of words. The characters, at least in the central story, are well-developed and complex and we ache for all of them. The author balances the grimness of the story with a dose of hope, something the title more than hints at. The metaphor of rebirth from flame and ash is central to the story, Phoenixville itself being a metaphor for Sketch's own resurrection, although his past has left an ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Teenagers in the 1980s face uncertain futures in the town of Phoenixville, a town like many others throughout the country. The major industry has closed, and the town does not offer much to kids like Sketch and Boo. A story set within this narrative takes place in the 1860s at the beginning of the big factory's growth and the two centuries are tied together in a clever way. Phoenixville is the next town over, so the locations are familiar, but readers everywhere will enjoy seeing a slice of smal ...more
Nov 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Cadigan captures the "lost hope" of a rural town that relied on one industry which is now shut down. He carefully describes the setting and draws a clear image of setting and character for the reader. His adolescents react to the confines of a small town and the bleak economic future with varying degrees of risk. Unexpectedly he weaves in a story of the town during the Civil War when the furnace works were operating at full capacity. I was engaged from beginning to end. ...more
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This author is local to our area, and the book takes place in a local town. The familiar landmarks, in addition to the well-developed characters and the well-written dialogue made this an extremely enjoyable read for me. I intend to have my tween and teen children read it, and recommend it for all.
Feb 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
This was a fun book to read having grown up in the town in which it takes place so I was able to easily visualize the locations. But, I found the plot predictable and a bit stereotyped and the writing a bit amateurish. This might be a good YA selection for its depiction of teenage angst and first love in a small, dying steel town. But other than that, I didn't find much to recommend it. ...more
Dawn Herrick
Feb 13, 2015 rated it liked it
As a personal preference, I like books and movies to start at the beginning and go to the end. This book tells three stories from different times simultaneously. The local history and references were interesting but didn't seem to meld smoothly. Sometimes it felt like being switched from the story to a history book and back again. I would recommend it to locals. ...more
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you grew up in any small town whose present doesn't live up to its past you will enjoy this book. Set primarily in 1980, the story moves between present day and this Pennsylvania town's founding in the late 1800s. A little bit of Civil War history, a little bit coming of age, intertwined around a few love stories: two couples, two friends and the love of a small town. ...more
Cheryl Schaeffer
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good Reading

Interesting to read about the town I lived in for 8 years on Bridge St in 1970s before, during and after the closing of Phoenix Steel. Some of the novel's history and geography is very accurate. This combined with the storyline made it a good read and enjoyable novel.
Amy Sullivan
Nov 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I breezed through it in 2 days but I'll be thinking about for a long time. This story would provide a great discussion for a book club! Excellent first novel by Robb Cadigan. I can't wait to read more from him. ...more
Becky Kline
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
PHOENIXVILLE RISING was a terrific book. The writing flows so that as sadness creeps in you can still remain comfortable. The characters were well defined and as the story went back and forth from one story line to another you followed along easily. I recommend this book highly!
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
I guess I missed something. This was ok, but I found it disjointed. I grew up in Phoenixville in the 80's, so I thought it would hit home with me. Unfortunately, despite recognizing many of the referenced landmarks, it didn't grab my attention or match my recollection of the time. ...more
Jane Butler
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was such a surprise! I kept envisioning places that are not in nearby Phoenixville but that I suppose are equally represented by the story. Young people finding their way in a period that was clearly depicted. The characters were sweet and memorable. Loved it.
Julianne G Cockey
A New Classic

A novel with a story I will never forget. The characters so real and emotional it is hard to let go of them. This is a love story, a mystery, a thriller, all uniquely written producing one of the best books I have ever read. Thank you Mr. Cadigan!
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book by a local author who incorporated tales of a small post-industrial town with the coming of age story of a boy.
Nov 02, 2013 marked it as to-read
I'm looking forward to reading this because this is my town! I'm curious as to how my town is portrayed in this book haha ...more
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A bit reminiscent of Stand By Me, a wonderful coming of age book with the young man's story intertwined with a lovely romantic twist. Beautifully written, thoroughly engaging! ...more
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fun book set in Phoenixville and written by a local author.
Amber C
Apr 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
it was entertaining to read a book with familiar landmarks- the library, the foundry building, etc.
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A former advertising copywriter and television executive, Robb Cadigan lives with his wife and two children in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Before becoming a full-time writer, Cadigan shucked oysters, drove a forklift, waited tables, sold clothes, edited TV GUIDE, and wrote advertisements for products as diverse as shoes, watches, and vacuum cleaners. For thirteen years, he was a marketing and tel

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