The Two Books Two Communities program, a partnership between Northern Michigan University and the Marquette and Alger County communities, has chosen The Women of the Copper Country and To the Copper Country as the books for the 2020 community read.
The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell is a historical novel about “America's Joan of Arc” based on Calumet's Anna "Big Annie" Clemenc, the courageous woman who started a rebellion by leading a 1913 strike against the largest copper mining company in the world, which ended in tragedy. The publisher describes it as “an authentic and moving historical portrait of the lives of the men and women of the early 20th century labor movement, and of a turbulent, violent political landscape that may feel startlingly relevant to today.”
Doria Russell is a bestselling and award-winning author. The committee previously hosted her in 2010, speaking on her book The Sparrow.
To the Copper Country by Barbara Carney-Coston is a young readers book (K-5) about 11-year-old Mihaela and her family, who embark on a journey from Croatia to the Keweenaw Peninsula in 1886 to join her father, who works in the copper mines but suffers from a painful eye disease. Mihaela and her mother, an expert plant-based healer, work to save his eyesight and support the boarders in their new home. The book won the 2017 Midwest Book Award for children's fiction and 2018 State History Award.
Author presentations and programming details will be announced in the fall and updated in the News & Events tab. Mary Doria Russell has been called one of the most versatile writers in American literature and one of our greatest contemporary storytellers. Russell’s first novel, The Sparrow (1996), was chosen as one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by Entertainment Weekly and won the Arthur C. Clarke Prize, the British Science Fiction for Best Novel in 1998. The sequel, Children of God(1998), won the Friends of the Library USA Reader’s Choice Award. The San Francisco Chronicle called A Thread of Grace (2005) “hauntingly beautiful,” and the novel was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Dreamers of the Day (2008) is one of the few novels about the Middle East praised in both Turkey and Israel. Doc, her fictional biography of Doc Holliday, was one of the Washington Post’s Three Best Novels of 2011. Its follow-on, Epitaph, examines the way the gunfight at the O.K. Corral became central to American mythology about the Old West. Her latest novel, The Women of the Copper Country, is about Annie Clements, the young union organizer who was once known as America’s Joan of Arc.
Barbara Carney-Coston is an award-winning media producer, writer, and educator. She began her career as a teacher and then worked in educational television, producing programs for public television, The Learning Channel and a variety of private clients. For National Geographic, she produced many web features, including one about the Underground Railroad that won a Parents’ Choice award and was designated an ALA Notable Website. She has written for Highlights for Children, Hopscotch, and Washington Parent magazines. Born in Detroit, Michigan, she loved spending part of every summer as a child "up North." She currently resides in Washington, DC
For About the Book page
The Women of the Copper Country
by Mary Doria Russell
In July 1913, twenty-five-year-old Annie Clements had seen enough of the world to know that it was unfair. She’s spent her whole life in the copper-mining town of Calumet, Michigan where men risk their lives for meager salaries—and had barely enough to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. The women labor in the houses of the elite, and send their husbands and sons deep underground each day, dreading the fateful call of the company man telling them their loved ones aren’t coming home. When Annie decides to stand up for herself, and the entire town of Calumet, nearly everyone believes she may have taken on more than she is prepared to handle.
In Annie’s hands lie the miners’ fortunes and their health, her husband’s wrath over her growing independence, and her own reputation as she faces the threat of prison and discovers a forbidden love. On her fierce quest for justice, Annie will discover just how much she is willing to sacrifice for her own independence and the families of Calumet.
From one of the most versatile writers in contemporary fiction, this novel is an authentic and moving historical portrait of the lives of the men and women of the early 20th century labor movement, and of a turbulent, violent political landscape that may feel startlingly relevant to today.
Listen to a sample
To the Copper Country – Mihaela’s Journey
by Barbara Carney-Coston
In 1886, eleven-year-old Mihaela embarks on a journey from Europe to the Keweenaw Peninsula, also known as Michigan’s Copper Country. Mihaela’s papa had made the trip two years beforehand in order to work the copper mines so that he could send money back home. But a painful eye disease has left him vulnerable in a new land and in need of the skills of his wife, an expert healer. And so Mihaela, her mother, and two younger brothers leave their family farm in Croatia for what they assume will be a brief visit to America, only to find themselves faced with a great many challenges and a stay that will not be temporary after all.
To the Copper Country--Mihaela's Journey is based on the author's family history.
The book was selected as the Midwest Independent Publishing Association (MIPA), Winner, Children’s Fiction 2018 and for the Historical Society of Michigan, State History Award for Outstanding Michigan History Publication, Children and Youth 2018
See that author’s photos of the Keweenaw Peninsula where To The Copper Country Takes Place
A young reader’s guide to the book by Barbara Coston Carney
After taking a year hiatus, the One Book One Community program, a partnership between Northern Michigan University and the Marquette County community, has returned with a new name and new partner. Two Books Two Communities expands the 13-year-old program with the addition of a second book and a series of events held in Munising as well as in Marquette.