It's Pittsburgh, 1910-the golden age of steel in the land of opportunity. Eastern European immigrants Janos and Karina Kovac should be prospering, but their American dream is fading faster than the colors on the sun-drenched flag of their adopted country. Janos is exhausted from a decade of twelve-hour shifts, seven days per week, at the local mill. Karina, meanwhile, thinks she has found an escape from their run-down ethnic neighborhood in the modern home of a mill manager-until she discovers she is expected to perform the duties of both housekeeper and mistress. Though she resents her employer's advances, they are more tolerable than being groped by drunks at the town's boarding house.
When Janos witnesses a gruesome accident at his furnace on the same day Karina learns she will lose her job, the Kovac family begins to unravel. Janos learns there are people at the mill who pose a greater risk to his life than the work itself, while Karina-panicked by the thought of returning to work at the boarding house-becomes unhinged and wreaks a path of destruction so wide that her children are swept up in the storm. In the aftermath, Janos must rebuild his shattered family with the help of an unlikely ally.
Impeccably researched and deeply human, Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash delivers a timeless message about mental illness while paying tribute to the sacrifices America's immigrant ancestors made.
Publisher: She Writes Press
Number of pages: 392
Dimensions: 216 x 140 mm
"Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash exudes atmosphere and intrigue and gripped me from the very first page. . . . The storytelling in this novel is second to none, telling a gripping story of the struggle immigrants faced, whilst keeping twists and turns you won't see coming that serve to keep the story engaging throughout."
-Readers' Favorite 5-star review
"A gripping, immersive story of immigrant grit in early 20th century America. Set against the grim backdrop of Western Pennsylvania's steel mills and coal mines, Tammy Pasterick weaves an engrossing tale of poverty, desperation, and betrayal. Above all, Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash is a tale of overcoming tragedy, and the transformative power of love. Pasterick's deftly-wrought prose is nothing short of sublime."
-Tonya Mitchell, author of A Feigned Madness
"The novel's structure presents many short chapters from different points of view, giving energy to the complex exposition, which addresses such topics as mental illness, infertility, rape, and postpartum depression."
"Drawn from the author's family archives, this richly-wrought family saga invites readers inside immigrant coal mining communities in early 20th century Western Pennsylvania. Gritty and riveting, Pasterick's debut novel exposes the depths and lengths humans go to protect honor, family, and love."
-Ashley E. Sweeney, award-winning author of Answer Creek
"At the turn into the 20th century, immigrants were forced to accept the most dangerous jobs to sustain their families. This is the unforgettable story of one such family, struggling to survive against unimaginable odds and heartbreaking challenges in the cruel mines of Pennsylvania."
-Kathryn Johnson, author of The Gentleman Poet
"Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash tells the compelling and very human story of working class immigrants in early twentieth century America. Meticulously researched, the author's compelling account captivates the reader, while also providing insight into the harsh and harrowing experience of immigrants coming to this country. In doing so, the book highlights the enormous strength and sacrifice required of those who came before us."
-Paul F. Clark, director and professor, School of Labor and Employment Relations, Penn State University
"The novel presents a striking portrait of the constant danger and risks associated with immigrants working in the mines and factories of early 20th century industrial America."
-Professor Michael Kopanic, Jr., University of Maryland Global Campus
"Beneath the Veil of Smoke and Ash is a riveting, graphic etching of the impossible choices and unthinkable consequences forced upon early 20th century immigrant workers by a bigoted society bent on ensuring they had no other options. Pasterick's vividly empathetic page-turner brings together an ensemble cast by turns relatable and reprehensible, drawn from a family history that could belong to countless American families. Heart wrenching, yes, but don't turn away from this one. We have to read stories like this to truly know who we are as a nation."
-Ellen Notbohm, award-winning author of The River by Starlight