In 1948, the town of Donora, PA, home to steel and zinc mills, was covered in a thick blanket of fog for several days. The “killing smog” caused severe breathing difficulties and even multiple deaths. This disaster is the basis for Kathleen Shoop’s new novel, After the Fog.
Rose Pavlesic is a community nurse, visiting homes to take care of the residents of Donora. Rose is dedicated to her profession and her patients, often to the detriment of her own family. She doesn’t realize how much her tight control over her children is really an illusion until her son Johnny informs her he’d rather play music than go to college to play football, and her daughter Magdalena turns up pregnant.
Rose had a less than ideal childhood, growing up in an orphanage, and she’s determined to keep her own children from living the life she feels is beneath them. Rose and her husband Henry, who works at the zinc mill, live with Henry’s extended family – his good-for-nothing brother Buzzy, Buzzy’s Southern wife who mourns the live of privilege she left behind, their son Leo who they don’t seem to care about as he follows Nurse on her home visits, an uncle who suffers from dementia and an aunt who takes a portion of everyone’s wages and hoards it in a pouch she keeps around her neck.
After the Fog is very much a character-driven novel – as Rose navigates Donora, treating patients who live in squalor and poverty, she begins to realize that she’s not the only one in her family who’s been keeping secrets from her loved ones. A decision she made as a teen not only haunts her but has found her in Donora. The circumstances surrounding Henry losing his job at the mill seem to change with every person she meets. And the church is turning out to be everything but the sanctuary it previously was. Instead of leaning on her family, she pushes them aside, turning to alcohol and using her nurse duties as an excuse to keep her head in the sand. But Rose soon comes to accept that her family is what really matters, and that lies can only stay hidden for so long before the truth comes out.
If After the Fog appeals to you, then leave a comment below to enter to win a copy, US addresses only. The winner will be announced in our regular giveaway column on May 23. This giveaway is closed.
- The winner of Helen Keller in Love is #13 Angela E.
- The winner of the princess pack is #26 Grace.
- The winner of Guinness World Records 2012 is # 12 Angie.