Reviews for Amity and Prosperity

by Eliza Griswold

Library Journal
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Fracking, the extraction of natural gas from rocks up to one mile deep, made some residents of the small, impoverished western Pennsylvania towns of Amity and Prosperity, rich, while others became victims of potentially fatal environmental hazards. Griswold (The Tenth Parallel) offers a compelling portrayal of Stacey Haney and her fight against fracking operation Range Resources, whose secretive activities unleashed airborne toxins and poisoned ponds that killed Haney's farm animals, sickened neighbors, and nearly took the life of her son, Harley. Deep research into court records and interviews with family members and neighbors, many of whom turned against Haney, a single mother and nurse, make for a compelling family tragedy narrative. Descriptions of the various individuals are memorable, although Griswold's recounting of Haney v. Range Resources (2013) gets bogged down in detail. This precedent-setting trial was not decided until 2018. -VERDICT An important addition to the emerging genre of works about fracking and its environmental and human costs. This will find large audiences among concerned citizens and warrants the attention of public officials as well as fans of J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy.-Karl Helicher, formerly with Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Griswold (The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, 2010, etc.) immerses herself with a few Pennsylvania families in rural areas near Pittsburgh to chronicle their life-threatening battles against the fracking industry.To extract natural gas deposits from deep within the ground, giant energy companies employ processes and chemicals that can disseminate dangerous substances into drinking water sources and into the air. The author, an extraordinarily versatile wordsmith as a poet, translator, and journalist, visited a region of Pennsylvania that had become a fracking crossroads. At a meeting of concerned citizens receiving payments for fracking on their land but angry about unforeseen environmental degradation, Griswold met Stacey Haney. A lifelong citizen of Amitynear the nearly depopulated town of ProsperityHaney, a nurse, has been worried that harmful elements from the fracking process have yielded chronic illnesses in herself and her children. Neither Haney nor most of her neighbors wanted to become social activists (many of them usually vote Republican and support Donald Trump). However, the increasing financial debt of the citizens from both towns, combined with the puzzling chronic ailments, led them to hire a team of lawyers to craft a court challenge or at least force the state's environmental protection agency to halt fracking operations of for-profit corporations. Because no scientific consensus has emerged about the societal benefits versus the public health hazards of fracking, the Haneys, as well as the other plaintiffs, worry that they will never prevail on technical grounds. Surprisingly, several Pennsylvania courts ruled against the fracking industry, but the Haneys and other plaintiffs received little in the way of tangible benefits. As the author inserts herself into the narrative about one-third of the way through, she becomes a character with apparent sympathies for the individual plaintiffs and their hardworking lawyers, but her reporting is, for the most part, evenhanded.A solid addition to the burgeoning literature on the social and health-related effects of fracking. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* The names Amity and Prosperity conjure up images of tranquility and abundance, and, indeed, historically, the good life was found within these southwestern Pennsylvania towns. Where once coal was king, now hydraulic fracking rules the day, with mining companies competing for rights to drill into the Marcellus Shale's abundant natural-gas reserves. Along with other landowners, single-mother Stacey Haney wrestled with her conscience before signing a lease with Range Resources to drill on her land. She was working multiple jobs to raise two teens and running a farm on her own, so the promised windfall would have been welcome. But when her son manifests a series of inexplicable ailments and farm animals unexpectedly die, Haney painstakingly traces the source of the illnesses back to the water and air pollution generated by the fracking sites. Stonewalled by the mining company, shunned by her community, Haney only finds hope and help with a husband-and-wife legal team willing to take on this powerful adversary. Griswold's (The Tenth Parallel, 2010) empathetic yet analytical account of Haney's indefatigable role as advocate for justice is a thorough and thoroughly blood-pressure-­raising account of the greed and fraud embedded in the environmentally ruinous natural-gas industry. As honest and unvarnished an account of the human cost of corporate corruption as one will find.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2010 Booklist