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Book targets rural readers

Ryan Graff

When Patrick Chalfant wrote the Glenwood Springs Post Independent looking for a review of his first book, “When the Levee Breaks,” he included a note about our readers. Chalfant said our rural audience would relate well to a boy named Hadley and his family’s life in Oklahoma. He thought they’d get a kick out of reading about country life and the dangers family farms are facing all over the nation. Chalfant probably never imagined, however, just how much he was speaking to Garfield County in “When the Levee Breaks. “Hadley and his family saw a great oil boom in the 1970s, when whole counties got rich and began leading the high life. But the oil industry pulled out on a whim in the early ’80s, taking the easy times and easy money with it. After the boom and bust, farmers toiled, struggling to make ends meet. An unscrupulous banker, “The Fink,” took what he could through foreclosures and auctions. Years later, big business returned to Oklahoma, turning over stones all over Hadley’s county in search of minerals – this time natural gas. The mineral booms and busts aren’t the focus of “When the Levee Breaks,” but they do show how life in Chalfant’s rural county came to be and the effect they had on the people who live there. They also closely mirror Garfield County’s own booms and busts. Chalfant defines and develops his characters in “When the Levee Breaks,” almost to a fault. Devin, a smart-aleck kid who knows what a belt across his butt feels like, keeps one-liners coming so often it is difficult to put the book down. And the motives and mystery of Hadley and Devin’s proud father, Alec, keep readers guessing. Both Devin and Alec seem a bit unrealistic, though. Devin curses too well for his age, and Alec goes to ridiculous lengths to protect his pride. Those minor flaws can be overlooked however, because the simple truth is that “When the Levee Breaks” is a fast and intriguing read. The book manages to remain wholesome even through a plot thick with murder, theft, and drug deals.”When the Levee Breaks” is available at Red Mountain Books.


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