Carmela's father is a coal miner in Hastings, Colorado. He already has a homestead near Aguilar and is working in the mines to earn enough money for cattle. Carmela's maternal grandfather has built a house on the claim and is farming it for them. Aunt Peppina and Uncle Bruno live next door to Carmela's family, and Aunt Jenny and Uncle Sam live down the street. Each day Mama takes two buckets and walks to the center of town for water. Yellow dust swirls around her feet. The taste of coal is always in the air. When an explosion rocks the mine, their lives change forever. Mama keeps a vigil at the mine. After nine days, she brings home Papa's shoe. What will the family do now?
Carmela narrates this story about the joys and sorrows of her Italian family during 1916. Unfortunately, the book is currently out-of-print.