“The story of hard times is hardly ever just one story, but more often two, as survivors of those times know only too well. Economic tragedy and personal tragedy are bound and knotted together, with neither a clear starting nor ending place….
“Nieman’s is inescapably a tragic story, an American story of the 1970s. Nieman exercises a remarkable eye for the familiar, and what makes the familiar so distinctive. ..
“’Survivors’ is every American story of heartache – a sad story beautifully delivered.”
David Walton in the Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Studied in small chunks, Nieman’s writing glows like that of the best modern and contemporary poets. The child’s-eye view and small exact description is reminiscent of Philip Levine or Mark Strand, and the even tone echoes Elizabeth Bishop…
“It is, however, refreshing to see a gritty, blue-collar novel of mourning written by a woman. This particular niche has been so cornered by men, including Busch, Banks, Frederick Exley and Richard Ford, that we no longer expect women to try to break into the men’s ward of the domestic loony bin. And although ‘Survivors’ has complicated female characters … it is a story of masculine grief and wounded male pride….
“Nieman has a gift for emotion and for language, a combination that she will doubtless hone in future novels.”
“Valerie Nieman has written a fine novel about a tough subject. Set in a decaying mining and manufacturing town in West Virginia in the early 1970s, ‘Survivors’ explores the erosive impact of loss on the McLean family.”
Dan Dervin in the Free Lance Star
This tumultuous story alternates between two voices, and begins after the tragic death of young Cory MacLean, whose sudden passing has left his family struggling to stay afloat in 1970s Lanarkton, West Virginia. Bud and Lola's remaining sons have their occasional ups and downs, and it's a bumpy ride toward acceptance and understanding. While teen-age son Stephan finds solace in his guitar songs and his companion, Jill, his brother Mike's route is more turbulent. Meanwhile, the parents struggle to overcome the loss of a son, which, coupled with the closing of the factory where they worked, is at once trying and uniting. The result is a poignant, if often depressing, tale about family bonds.
By Lynn Andriani in Book Magazine