Review — Trampoline: An Illustrated Novel by Robert Gipe

Dawn Jewell

Reading Trampoline is like reading a combination of social studies, history, daily news, and the comic strips. Dawn Jewell is the narrator and main character. She is fifteen and describes herself as “more of a kid fifteen than a grown fifteen.” Author Robert Gipe does a great job showing the working class people of Eastern Kentucky Coalfields (not to be confused with the town of Eastern, Kentucky).

Dawn’s Mamaw is politically involved with the strip mining taking place in Canard County, a true to life place with true to life people having true to life problems. Canard is part of the “walled up rat maze of mountains” where Dawn lives and desperately wants to leave.

Her momma is a drug addict and her daddy died several years before the story takes place. Dawn is somewhat a celebrity due to comments she made at a meeting. Afterwards, she was interviewed by a nearby radio station and became known as a treehugger. Her stand against mountain top removal by the coal mines astounds her proponents and outrages her opponents.

Dawn is a loving character who wants to be loved. By her momma. By her local disc jockey. Or by her Aunt June. In trying to run from the life she has, Dawn runs into trouble after trouble, from getting suspended from school to possibly killing her momma’s boyfriend, to wanting to kill her uncle. Though full of tragedy and heartache the Jewell family comes back together. And life almost begins brand new.

One does not need to live in Eastern Kentucky (nor Eastern, Ky) to understand the devastation caused by strip mining. One does not need to drive the winding roads of the “maze of mountains” to feel the isolation of Canard County residents.

One does needs to read Trampoline: An Illustrated Novel. It is a touching, laugh-out-loud novel worth the read and possibly worth a tour of the Kentucky Coalfields.


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