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Reviewed by Lee Ashford for Readers' Favorite
“Cinders Over the Junction” by J.P. Kenna is an intimate tale of a family’s history, from the mass exodus of Irish emigrants during the potato famine of the 1840’s to the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. The story begins with a chance meeting between Michael and Margaret in 1921, then leaps to Margaret’s 100th birthday celebration in 2001, surrounded by many of her descendants, then moves once again to the post-Civil War era, where most of the story occurs. I felt a part of the family during their good times and bad ones as well. I laughed, I cried, I empathized, and at times I wanted to hold their hands and give them a hug. What could possibly have happened to this family to precipitate such a response in me?
I was completely involved in this story, from the beginning to the end. Many historical aspects of the story were fascinating, although I found it ironic that while life was getting better from the 1860’s to 2001, in many respects they felt it was getting worse. I was also struck by myriad economic and political similarities between then and now. But the heart and soul of this story is the people who lived it. Along with the many Irish immigrants, there was a plethora of recently emancipated slaves to compete for jobs, allowing the so-called Robber Barons to slash wages and ignore unsafe working conditions. My review of this epic historical fiction does not do justice to how deeply it affected me. I could not recommend it any more strongly. This is a book you will be glad you read.