The Breaker Boys by Pat Hughes

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The son of a wealthy Pennsylvania coal mine operator, Nate Tanner resents being shipped off to boarding school. Anger—mainly  at his father and stepmother—is what gets him there and what prevents him from making friends. Then, in the spring of 1897, it gets him kicked out and sent home. To avoid his family, Nate disappears on his bicycle every day. In this way he meets the breaker boys, who do dangerous, dirty work for his father, separating coal from debris. Nate admires these Polish immigrants, especially Johnny, and longs to become his friend. But the only way is for Nate to hide that he is the boss's son. As Nate and Johnny's friendship marches toward the moment of truth, Nate discovers that the mine workers are plotting a strike. Should he warn his family or protect his friend?

This fascinating second novel features a hero who is blessed—or cursed—with the ability to see both sides of a painful issue and to accept that no one is impartial.


About Pat Hughes

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Pat Hughes lives in Narberth, Pennsylvania. A former copy editor, Pat has been praised for her “accurate detailing of the events and moods of a tumultuous time” (Publishers Weekly) in her first book, Guerrilla Season.
Published February 16, 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). 213 pages
Genres: Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Nate Tanner gets booted out of boarding school and comes home to Pennsylvania, where his wealthy father is a coal mine operator.

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As Johnny and Nathan grow closer, Nathan learns that, because of unfair wages and treatment, some of the mine workers are forming unions and going on strike.

Sep 10 2004 | Read Full Review of The Breaker Boys

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