Last winter, a friend of mine suggested to me that I take a peek at a book. It happened to be Trampoline: An Illustrated Novel by Robert Gipe. You can check out the book here. My friend recommended this book to me due to the unique nature of those who grew up in Appalachia. I see now why he told me to give it a look. I finally got around to buying the kindle copy of the book last week and almost immediately plowed through the entire thing. I caught myself opening my kindle app on my phone in order to quickly read a few paragraphs whenever I could, and this absolutely included taking an extra 10 minute break while at work in order to get my fix.
It’s hard to find a piece of media that actually captures what its like to grow up in Appalachia. I wasn’t in Kentucky where the book takes place (and it takes all my willpower not to write ‘Kensucky’ instead), but I was very close. I grew up in West Virginia, where coal mining is a pretty big deal. I wasn’t out in the hollers (excuse me, the hollows) and never really saw the destruction first hand with my own eyes, but I saw other things. I saw how my ‘treehugger’ friends couldn’t consume alcohol and had limited diets because growing up, the water was poison due to the coal mining. I saw all the debates, the fights, and felt disgusted when I saw billboards advertising the coal mining companies and all they did for us. But I also felt apathetic, because it seemed like everyone’s efforts were wasted.
I like to think that I’d fit right in with Dawn Jewell.
Another thing that was so great about Trampoline is that I actually got homesick reading it. Anyone who knows me in person is well aware of how I feel about West Virginia. I hated growing up there, and clawed tooth and nail to be in a position where I could leave. It wasn’t until I had a fate chance to move out of there, no strings attached, that I got to leave. So far, I haven’t looked back, and felt out of place and out of home the one time that I had gone back to visit.
Ever since I read Trampoline, I’ve been thinking of my life back in West Virginia. It was messy and hard, and I left a lot of things undone and a lot more of things unsaid. I don’t feel the need to go back and make amends. However, like there always is, there’s a ‘but’ to these sorts of things.