Tyler Hake is a 10th grader in Southern West Virginia. He needs to be saved because, after the community uproar surrounding the death of his father, Mason Hake, a Gulf War veteran, Tyler brings Mason’s blood-stained shirt to school. The plot thickens when one of Mason’s classmates shows up unexpectantly in her hometown and seems to be joining with his teachers in offering support to Tyler. “Saving Tyler Hake is a realistic story told by English teacher Robin Smith about how she and other educators reached out to help a student following a family tragedy. Willis is a master story-teller and honestly reveals the same challenges faced by educators and families in Appalachia today. Great read.” Kathy Manley. “Meredith Sue Willis’s vividly drawn characters pull you into their small town in the mountains of southern West Virginia where hurts, jealousies, and secrets won’t lie buried. . . “ – Anna Eagan Smucker. “Meredith Sue Willis is a masterful storyteller who never gives too much away, but uncannily gives just enough to keep me always eager for the next page. This novella is superbly nuanced with not a word misplaced. Meredith reveals the inherent selfishness in even the best of people, without judgment, an accomplishment few of her contemporaries can do as well.” - Marc Harshman, Poet Laureate of Wet Virginia. Since the 1979 when Charles Scribner’s Sons brought out her first novel, Meredith Sue Willis has been West Virginia’s most prolific and versatile author, well-know and well-loved for her willingness to share what she knows and to encourage the state’s prospective writers.
Charleston, West Virginia: Mountain State Press, 2020. 89 pages. Trade paperback.