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Gray Mountain
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Group Read Books - archive > Gray Mountain Chapters 1-8 Spoilers welcome

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message 1: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14410 comments For discussion of chapters 1-8; if possible, the first participants to post could add a brief summary to guide the discussion of these chapters please.


message 2: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 2997 comments 1 Law firm going through layoffs. We are introduced to Samantha, a lawyer who has just seen the recession come. A few days of uncertainty, and she is furloughed, the terms of which let her keep health insurance if she does the right volunteer work.

2.
Samantha realized that she hated her job anyway, bringing a moment of relief. She calls her mother to give her the news, and reflects on how expensive her life was. She then followed with a call to her father, who was a former high powered lawyer, until the lure of corruption got too strong and he wound up in prison.

3.
Samantha found that the sheer bulk of furloughed lawyers had filled the ranks of the authorized non-profits. She heads to DC to see her mother and her father (divorced). She learned that her father had partnered with other disbarred lawyers to consult on what lawsuits were worth pursuing. She declines a job with her father. She does get a nibble from a rural legal aid outfit though.

4.
Sam gets the interview, with a warning that the first good person to show up gets the job, and there were more applicants. The legal aid is in Va, so at least she is partway there. She has some drinks with hr mother, who cautions her to stay away from her father’s firm.

5.
Sam drives to VA in a rental Prius, and gets pulled over for speeding. A pickup stops and the cop shoes it off, gun in hand, then fires the gun in the air, making Sam quite disturbed. Turns out the guy is not a cop, and is a bit disturbed himself. She is taken to her car by another lawyer, Matty,s (the legal aid head) nephew. The nephew, Donovan, also carried a gun. He sued coal companies and made plenty of enemies. Donovan explains to her what a dirty business coal mining is.

6.
Sam meets Mattie and expresses some reservations about what she did, but also about what she might be doing. Mattie invites her home to dinner. They talk about everything, and Mattie mentions that Donovan led a tragic life. Sam questions that. Seems Donovan’s family owned Grey mountain, and his father leased it to the coal miners. The coal company clear cut the mountain, bulldozed it down, and blasted till the house started cracking. The coal company raped the land, then declared bankruptcy. Donovan grew up to fight the coal companies, and the companies were fighting him back, and not just in court.

7.
Mattie is back ion DC with her father. She is amazed at the world outlook of Washington vs the local life in Brady Va. Mattie calls and offers her the job. Mattie agrees to start in a couple of days. She talks to her father about coal and lawsuits.

8.
Sam starts right in at legal aid, under the tutelage of Mattie. She notes that the first case seems to consist of the police operating far outside the law where poor people were concerned. Mattie gives Sam the lowdown on how it all works, and tells the client that she and Sam have her case in hand.
Sam next partnered with the other lawyer, Annette on a domestic violence case. She then draws her own case, just because she was the only one not busy when the phone rang. She listens to a disability case, but learns later that due to the amount of fraud in the claims, the legal aid does not take them and refers them off.


Melodie (melodieco) | 3604 comments I really liked this book. The stuff about the coal mining business is the reason I wanted to read the book anyway. Right off, I didn't care much for Sam's mom, Karen. OTOH, I actually liked her dad. Mattie & Donovan are great characters and they come across as real. Sadly, I'm all too familiar with the tales of the people coming to them for legal help. The areas that are talked about in this book, in West Virginia and, most especially, Kentucky are places I know well.


Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7900 comments Am enjoying so far. As I posted earlier, the "young girl" voice of the narrator initially irked me, but I've gotten used to it now, and she does the other voices fairly well.

How old is Sam? I'm guessing around 25? She seems fairly naive for a New Yorker, but maybe I've lost touch with the twenty-somethings. I wanted to scream at her passive acceptance of the nutcase faux-cop's treatment of her, but maybe I've read too many serial killer novels (and she hasn't, LOL). She got in the car with him? How about "I'll follow you, or you follow me."

I thought of you, Mel, as I read this, knowing you were reading it and that you were highly familiar with the area. It's a whole other world from what I know. The antics of the coal companies is fascinating and infuriating.


Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7900 comments I wondered about this deal where the associates are invited to work pro bono for a year, but Sherry assures me that it actually happens. Once I heard that they got their full medical benefits for the year it made a little more sense, but still. What are these people living on?

Also, I also wasn't sure why the legal aid groups were so stingy in only accepting one intern. Sure, it takes time to train people, but free legal skilled experise when they are probably buried with people in need of services?


Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7900 comments Melodie wrote: "I really liked this book. The stuff about the coal mining business is the reason I wanted to read the book anyway. Right off, I didn't care much for Sam's mom, Karen. OTOH, I actually liked her dad..."

I didn't much like Sam's mom OR dad, although they at least are genuine in their desire to be there for her.


LizH (liz_h) | 955 comments To me I thought this book started out so slow, I was a little surprised. Sticking with it, just need to get in that "southern writer" mode :)


message 8: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 1270 comments So far I'm really liking this book. My mom's family were all coal miners in Pennsylvania so I like learning more about that. My grandfather wasn't a miner, but worked the railroad transporting the coal. Melodie, are you from the area, or have you worked there? Over the past twenty years my husband and kids have gone in the summers on volunteer trips, so my knowledge of the area comes from their experiences and pictures. I didn't realize that companies did this kind of furloughs, where employees work for non profits. Do they collect umemployment? I'm having trouble getting past the no income for a year. It might work for Samantha, but not too many others I'm afraid. Funny how her dad comes across as more likable than her mother, although I think he's still up to no good.


Melodie (melodieco) | 3604 comments Dawn wrote: "So far I'm really liking this book. My mom's family were all coal miners in Pennsylvania so I like learning more about that. My grandfather wasn't a miner, but worked the railroad transporting th..."

My family is all in eastern Kentucky and my grandfathers worked in the mines, as have cousins,uncles, etc. There is mining all over the area where my family lives. I was raised in southern Ohio, but Kentucky was my second home when I was growing up. My folks went back when they retired and my brother is also there, along with lots of extended family and friends.


Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7900 comments Dawn wrote: " I didn't realize that companies did this kind of furloughs, where employees work for non profits. Do they collect umemployment? I'm having trouble getting past the no income for a year. It might work for Samantha, but not too many others I'm afraid. ..."

I wondered about that too, Dawn. Sherry says it is an actual thing, unpaid furloughs. Grisham handled the living accommodations pretty handily, but I did wonder how the interns were supposed to have paid for meals and living expenses. I supposed you can collect unemployment while volunteering, but not sure, since part of the deal is supposed to be that you are looking for a job and reporting on what you're doing to further that.


message 11: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14410 comments I just finished chapter eight and am hooked nicely with the exception of the narrator's voice for Sam which sounds way too young; like Carol I am getting used to it.


message 12: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 2997 comments I could read it to you, but you would need something to settle your stomach.


Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7900 comments Barry wrote: "I could read it to you, but you would need something to settle your stomach."

Yes, you have many gifts, but I don't see you as the young ingenue, Barry.


message 14: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14410 comments I think I like the characters, and I am enjoying the set-up of the Appalachian setting. The Big Law firm layoffs and the furlough scheme to hang onto a few associates while probably getting some sort of break for facilitating their associates' pro bono work seems pretty crazy.
Samantha is more tentative that I expected, though she is doing the "out of the box" thing by investigating participating in the program and moving from NYC to do it; she seems fairly passive about the whole thing, perhaps it is from being shell-shocked.


Shomeret | 1371 comments Carol/Bonadie wrote: "Dawn wrote: " I didn't realize that companies did this kind of furloughs, where employees work for non profits. Do they collect umemployment? I'm having trouble getting past the no income for a yea..."

I just started this book today and need to finish it today too because it's due tomorrow.

Re what Samantha is living on-- I imagine she's living on her savings. She mentioned how much she had in savings and she could certainly live on that in a small town in Appalachia where the cost of living is much lower than in New York.


message 16: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 2997 comments I don;t imagine one would have much left after living a year on savings. Particularly when you are starting out, you don;t think much further ahead than the life you always wanted to live.


Shomeret | 1371 comments Barry wrote: "I don;t imagine one would have much left after living a year on savings. Particularly when you are starting out, you don;t think much further ahead than the life you always wanted to live."

Samantha says that she could live for a year in New York if she was careful and only ate soup. If that's the case, then she could definitely do it in Brady, Virginia.


Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7900 comments Shomeret wrote: "Re what Samantha is living on-- I imagine she's living on her savings. She mentioned how much she had in savings and she could certainly live on that in a small town in Appalachia where the cost of living is much lower than in New York..."

Oh, I forgot about her savings. That makes sense. Her room is taken care of I think, and she gets a lot of free meals from her landlady whose name I've forgotten and her other colleagues and friends, so her savings would go a ways in Appalachia. I don't know how many months the events in Grey Mountain covered, (view spoiler).


message 19: by Barry (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 2997 comments Shomeret wrote: "Barry wrote: "I don;t imagine one would have much left after living a year on savings. Particularly when you are starting out, you don;t think much further ahead than the life you always wanted to..."
Yeah, she says. I am thinking to my sister and cousins starting life in NY, and they would not have had a year worth of savings for NY or Brady.


message 20: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 26 comments My initial thoughts of the novel was that I found really interesting. I liked the thought of the women lawyer in the Legal Aid Clinic providing free legal help the local community and I could see myself working there probably on a volunteer basis.

This novel reminded me of the movie 'Erin Brockovitch' which I really enjoyed.

I am from the UK so I enjoyed listening about the Appalachia and the effects of coal mining which I presume is based on some fact.


message 21: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue | 26 comments I thought Sam's run in with Romy was kind of funny and scary, I am not sure I would have got out of my car but I suppose the gun might have persuaded me. Sam really did not recieve a good first impression of Brady.


message 22: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14410 comments It was a scary situation, Sue and being in such a small town I suppose she didn't know what to expect (to know he was not an actual law enforcement person).
Sue wrote: "I thought Sam's run in with Romy was kind of funny and scary, I am not sure I would have got out of my car but I suppose the gun might have persuaded me. "


Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7900 comments Sue wrote: "
I am from the UK so I enjoyed listening about the Appalachia and the effects of coal mining which I presume is based on some fact.
..."


So glad to welcome a poster from the UK! Several of us read mysteries by British authors and about England.

You will see from Melodie's posts that sadly, the coal elements are based on fact. Melody grew up in nearby Kentucky.


Donnajo | 3544 comments I finally got thought up to chapter 9. read 3 chapters today. I'm enjoying the story so far. I like Sam. don't like her parents. it's a interesting storyline and it's interesting that a few of you know about the area and that type of storyline with the mines.
I took got a kick out of non cop. that part of the story got me thinking of either another book I read or a movie I saw. I liked mattie, her husband and her nephew (okay thinking of a match up between sam and the nephew already you know me.
I thought in chapter 8 the other's in the office or at least the one who past on the phone call to her that they don't handle that type that she's being tested or the one women is trying to pull something. I might try for a few more chapters today but maybe not until the next break to post comments. (library books and one I want to finish that I have to review after the 1st of the year.


message 25: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann (annrumsey) | 14410 comments Glad you are reading the book again, DJ! There were several characters that I didn't warm up to for various reasons in the beginning of the book. I also like Mattie and her husband. They are friendly and seem to be genuinely nice people.


Donnajo | 3544 comments I also liked that the one lawyer she's working with is letting her stay in her garage apartment for free.


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